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24 June, 2021
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Loggerhead ‘Pambos’ is quite the wanderer

Conservation group in Cyprus says a wandering male turtle takes romance to a whole new level of commitment


Sea turtles are known to wander in Mediterranean waters for food and nesting, but a loggerhead named Pambos has caught the eye of a conservation group in Cyprus for taking romance to a whole new level of commitment.

According to BirdLife Cyprus, a loggerhead tracked by satellite is proving to be a great wanderer with romance as his driving force.

Named by the Bycatch Project team, Pambos is a 43-kilo male loggerhead turtle with a carapace length of 71cm. He was caught in rabbitfish nets in March and tagged with a GPS device before being released.

“Unlike the other turtles, Pambos seemed to be moving about a lot, moving up and down the Famagusta coast during the first weeks of tracking,” BirdLife said on its website.

Not much is known as to why sea turtles nest on some beaches and not on others, but most females return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest

Pambos would occasionally settle around Cape Greco, while on April 19 the great wanderer headed for Episkopi Bay which he reached by April 24. GPS maps showed that the loggerhead spent about a month paddling about Episkopi Bay and then off he went towards Paphos airport, until his May 30 departure from the island with a course set westwards. His latest location was recorded near Tunisia.

During mating season, males may court a female by nuzzling her head or by gently biting the back of her neck and rear flippers. If the female does not flee, the male attaches himself to the back of the female’s shell by gripping her top shell with claws in his front flippers. He then folds his long tail under her shell to copulate, either on the surface or under water.

Competition for females is often fierce and experts have observed even vicious behaviour by both males and females. Females may mate with several males just prior to nesting season and store their sperm for several months, according to experts, who say this helps to ensure diversity in the species.

Not much is known as to why sea turtles nest on some beaches and not on others. But most females return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest, according to experts. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred yards of where they last nested.

Bycatch Project helps protect sea turtles

According to BirdLife, GPS-tracked information along with drones used in aerial surveys help the Bycatch Project team to develop mitigation measures that would protect many turtles from being caught unintentionally in fishing gear.

Cyprus hosts two sea turtle species, the green sea turtle and the loggerhead turtle also known as Caretta Caretta, both of which are protected by international endangerment species acts.

Recent incidents made headlines such as conservationists being confronted by locals on Argaka beach, Paphos district. A number of sea turtles are being rescued all around the island, while deaths have also been reported, often attributed to drowning after being caught in fishing nets. In some cases, turtles were tortured and killed.

Cyprus  |  BirdLife  |  bycatch  |  turtle  |  loggerhead  |  nesting  |  migration  |  mating  |  Pambos  |  Mediterranean  |  protection  |  conservation  |  beach  |  hatchling

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