With the sun out in full force, islanders and visitors alike are starting to flock to the town’s beaches, but whilst many are only thinking of the good time they will have, Ocean Rangers Cyprus is already counting the cost of the debris and pollution left behind by beachgoers.
The recently formed organisation is reminding people to respect the beaches they use and collect their rubbish to avoid contaminating the waters and endangering the island’s marine life. They are also seeking donations and volunteers - both desperately needed to assist in helping to protect the seas, to actively help clean the coasts, and to create awareness raising events.
Ocean Rangers was set up as a non-profit organisation in February this year in Nicosia with the aim of “protecting the sea, the oceans and all its creatures”. It has a Facebook page, as well as a new website which details meetings and events, and also offers the option to become a member or donate to one of the ongoing projects. Projects include dive-site and coastal clean-ups and an educational project in cooperation with the Ministry of Education & Culture to distribute materials in schools and organise children’s activities to raise awareness on environmental issues related to the sea.
Earlier in the year, the organisation held a clean-up of Mackenzie, Pervolia and Meneou beaches, as part of an island-wide clean-up initiative. Nearly 50 volunteers collected around 100 bags of rubbish – a number that would no doubt be much higher in peak season.
But Ocean Rangers Cyprus say that whilst cleaning the beaches is one step forward, it is only a temporary solution with the ultimate goal to reach a point where beaches do not need cleaning because they are being kept clean in the first place.
At present, the organisation is very concerned about the fate of the island’s turtles, which are in need of protection. Several dead turtles have recently been reported on various beaches, including on Spyros beach in Meneou. As a result, the organisation has been asked by members of the public what they can do if they find a sick or injured turtle, offering the following advice: “Turtles can actually drown if they are trapped underwater so it is important to act quickly if you see an entangled turtle, but do so with care as they can bite or hit with their flippers. Never pull a turtle by its flippers or attempt to tow it to shore. Release the turtle as quickly and calmly as you can, but if a turtle looks sick or is dead, never touch it without rubber gloves. Immediately contact either the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research - Larnaca Division on 24304294 / 24823407, or the Larnaca Coast Guard on 24804053, as the cause of death will need to be researched and documented. Meneou beach also has a Turtle rehabilitation centre for sick and injured turtles on the beach at the DFMR Meneou research station, which you can also contact.
Anyone wishing to become a member, volunteer or donor to the organisation’s cause can do so by ‘liking’ the Facebook page: Ocean Rangers Cyprus, or visiting the website www.oceanrangerscyprus.org
As the organisation say, numbers are power: “We need people to join and be active so that we can take it to ministers to request funding for our efforts and tell them that Cyprus and its people are ready to make changes; that they want changes.”