Help Sea Turtles in North Cyprus

Location: Cyprus

Recommended by JJ from Travel Across The Borderline

How do I know it’s ethical?

SPOT (Society for the Protection Of Turtles) is a North Cyprus-based conservation organization that was established in the early 1990s. 

Partnering with the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in the UK, SPOT’s activities are primarily seasonal and focus on studying and protecting nesting sea turtles, their eggs, and their young. 

Through their efforts, they have established five coastal Specially Protected Areas to protect green turtle nesting sites from insensitive development. This commitment to ethical animal tourism and the conservation of marine life makes SPOT an invaluable asset to North Cyprus.

Description of the Experience

Northern Cyprus has a complicated and troubled recent history, as it is technically illegally occupied land with only Turkey recognising it as an independent country. But don’t let that put you off from visiting, as it is a truly wonderful place!

Those who appreciate the beauty of nature will find solace in Northern Cyprus. Compared to its more commercialized southern counterpart, it is less developed and far more unspoiled – meaning that you can explore a plethora of untamed natural landscapes here! Truly an enchanting destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

During my time there I saw everything from wild flamingos, snakes, chameleons, sea turtles and even the rare Bonelli’s eagle!

Unfortunately, the precarious political situation has resulted in an array of bureaucratic obstacles preventing wildlife conservation projects and charitable organizations in Northern Cyprus from receiving international funding.

This is a tragedy as there are many different diverse and fragile ecosystems there that need protection.

One way that this can be improved is through increasing sustainable ecotourism in the area as this can provide a much-needed economic boost to the local wildlife conservation projects. 

Volunteering with SPOT is an incredibly rewarding experience. Volunteers stay in basic camping accommodations on one of North Cyprus’ beaches. This is an amazing way to experience the wild and rugged coastline of North Cyprus.

Daily volunteer activities include nightly beach monitoring, excavation of nests and helping to release turtle hatchlings.  Volunteers also have the opportunity to help with the collection and analysis of data, as well as getting involved in projects such as turtle tagging, beach clean-ups and educational campaigns.

Volunteers will be trained on the various aspects of both field and laboratory research methods which may include dealing with stranded turtles, elasmobranchs and marine mammals, as well as attending post-mortem sessions.

In recent years SPOT has also partnered with local fishermen to monitor shark and ray populations and help to manage the local fisheries. Volunteers can also get involved with this side of the project, which is a really unique experience.

At the end of the volunteer experience, volunteers will have gained a unique insight into the plight of marine life in North Cyprus and developed their knowledge of this threatened species.  They will also have made a real contribution to the conservation effort in North Cyprus, ensuring that sea turtles can continue to nest and that their young can be released in a safe environment.

Company/ Cost: 

Volunteers are asked to contribute £850 to SPOT North Cyprus. This covers all costs for a 4-8 week stay (longer positions may be negotiated case by case); food, accommodation, and transport in Cyprus including airport transfer. In addition, this money helps to finance the involvement of local students.

Northern Cyprus
The waterfront in Northern Cyprus. Photo by Travel Across the Borderline.
Help Sea Turtles in North Cyprus

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This is one post on a series of ethical animal tourism posts by travel content creators. The experiences cover all seven continents and a variety of animals. Ensure that your animal experience is an ethical one.

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