GENERAL INFORMATION

It is known that seven species of turtle live on our planet. It is also known that two of these species, the Caretta caretta and the Chelonia mydas nest intensively on Mediterranean beaches (Mrosovsky, 1983). It was determined that the Caretta caretta and the Chelonia mydas come to Cyprus, the third biggest island in the Mediterranean, to lay their eggs (Groombridge and Whitmore, 1983; Demetropoulos and Hadjichristophorou, 1989; Groombridge, 1990; Godley and Broderick, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996). It was also determined that turtles from the Caretta caretta and the Chelonia mydas species nested on 17 important beaches of Turkey along the Mediterranean coast (Geldiay, 1982, 1983, 1984; Baran and Karparek, 1988; Groombridge, 1988).

Turtles are known to be among the oldest species to have survived on earth. These species, which have been living for approximately 100 to 200 million years, are now fighting for their survival on our planet which is being increasingly polluted as a consequence of rapid development, industrialization, and other human activities. They are now in great danger of extinction despite their resistance. A census was taken in all countries having a coastline. The results of the count were announced during the 1979 Conference for the Protection of Turtles and it was reported that only about 100 to 200 thousand mature Caretta caretta females remained. This decrease is due to the large number of sea and land predators, sea pollution, and conscious and unconscious damage caused by human beings (Gramentz, 1988). For this reason, various measures are being taken all over the planet for the preservation of these species who figure at the top of the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). It is known that about 300 to 400 female Chelonia mydas and 2000 female Caretta caretta turtles nest in the Mediterranean (Groombridge, 1990).

During recent research carried out on the beaches of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 200 nests on 65 beaches in 1992, 571 nests on 68 beaches in 1993, 980 nests on 77 beaches in 1994, 876 nests in 1995, and 482 nests in 1996 were located (Godley and Broderick, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996). Nests determined during the research in the Karpaz area were not included in the 1996 figures. In 1996, 62 nests were located on 12 beaches in the Karpaz area (?enol, A., 1996).

These figures show that approximately 25% of the Chelonia mydas and 10% of the Caretta caretta turtles which are considered to be living in the whole of the Mediterranean choose the beaches of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to nest (Godley and Broderick, 1995, 1996).