Cyprus Turtles, It’s an amazing experience to come face to face with a sea turtle while diving. With their cute little faces, intricate patterns on their shell and the way they move so gracefully through the water, you’ll find yourself mesmerised, dazzled and wanting more.
In the resort of Protaras, Cyprus we have a very particular type of sea turtle that is like the green turtle. It’s Greek name, Caretta-caretta. These are very common at our dive sites in Cyprus. We love to see these when we dive and getting the feeling of how graceful the turtle moves underwater. At Easy Divers in Cyprus, our padi Instructors will show you the places that are almost a guarantee we will see them during the dive. We have to be careful when around the creatures as we don’t want to disturb them while they feed.
It spends most of its life in saltwater and estuarine habitats, with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs. The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay an average of four egg clutches and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two to three years.
Loggerheads spend up to 85% of their day submerged, with males being the more active divers than females. The average duration of dives is 15–30 min, but they can stay submerged for up to four hours. Juvenile loggerheads and adults differ in their swimming methods. A juvenile keeps its forelimbs pressed to the side of its carapace, and propels itself by kicking with its hind limbs. As the juvenile matures, its swimming method is progressively replaced with the adult’s alternating-limb method. They depend entirely on this method of swimming by one year old.
Did you know there are seven species of sea turtle: the green, loggerhead, hawksbill, flatback, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley and the leatherback, all of which are listed under the Endangered Species List. The sad fact is that their numbers are declining rapidly due to loss of breeding grounds, pollution and human development and we need to work very hard at protecting and preserving these magnificent creatures or they won’t be around for future generations.
You might see a couple of distinct species on one dive, so how can you tell the difference between them?
The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of the sea turtles reaching up to 1.8 metres (6 foot) in length and weighing over 900 kg’s (2000 pounds). That’s a big turtle! They also have ridges of cartilage along the length of their shell.
The Hawksbill Turtle is easy to identify with its mouth that looks like a hawk, hence the name.
Turtles in Cyprus
The Green Turtle has only one pair of scales in front of its eyes compared with the other sea turtles who have two. The Green Turtle is a vegetarian, feeding mainly on seagrass and algae.
The Olive Ridleys are identified by their olive coloured shell and the Loggerhead Turtles have a reddish-brown shell and a very large head. These are the most common turtles you’ll see on your dive.
With the exception to the green turtle, The rest all enjoy a diet of crabs, molluscs, squid, jellyfish and other soft bodied animals. They have very powerful jaws so passive observation is advised unless you want to lose a finger.
Also, it’s best not to disturb the animal, so please do not be tempted to touch them as this can stress out the animal. Sea turtles are usually found near the coast, except for the leatherback, which only comes to the shore for breeding.
They can live to be over 100 years old but many die way before their time due to human interaction. Sea turtles are breath holders and must surface every so often for air. Depending on the species and how active they are, they can hold their breath from 1-5 hours. The leatherback has been recorded diving to depths of 1200 metres or more.