Updated 5.40pm

A loggerhead turtle has laid eggs at Ġnejna Bay, prompting authorities to close the zone to the public. 

Photo: Nature Trust MaltaPhoto: Nature Trust Malta
 

An enclosure has been erected around the site, which is being monitored by Nature Trust Malta as well as other government authorities.

Nature Trust were first alerted to the eggs on Monday morning, when a man called the NGO to tell them that he had spotted a turtle on the beach at around 3am the previous night. 

The turtle spent roughly 30 minutes on the sand before returning to the sea, according to the eyewitness, who has asked to remain anonymous. 

Nature Trust officials visited Ġnejna Bay on Monday morning to look for potential nests, and soon discovered one. 

Environment and Resources Authority officials confirmed that a turtle had laid eggs at the site. 

An Emergency Conservation Order has now been issued for the nesting area. In a statement, the Environment Ministry expressed concern that sands in the area, which are very rich in clay, might end up waterlogged following rains, leading to breathing issues for the unhatched turtles inside the eggs. 

Authorities have urged people to stay away from the area unless necessary, as trampling, noise and artificial light can all pose a danger to turtle eggs. 

This is the second time that a turtle has laid eggs on a Maltese beach in recent history. In 2016, a turtle had laid eggs at Golden Bay, with 66 turtles hatched after 56 days of incubation as environmentalists celebrated in silence. 

The last recorded nesting at Ġnejna Bay dates back to 2012. 

Watch: Turtles hatch at Golden Bay in first recorded event in a generation

As on previous occasions, Nature Trust Malta will be keeping watch on the eggs for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We will have volunteers at the site for every minute of the next 60 days," an NGO spokesman told Times of Malta, "so we need all the help we can get."  

Anyone interested in contributing to the volunteer effort can contact the NGO by emailing turtle.naturetrust@gmail.com

Loggerhead turtles are classified as a globally endangered species, and their capture, kiling, taking, trading or deliberate disturbance is a crime. 

According to local laws, anyone caught taking or destroying a turtle egg is liable to a fine of anything between nearly €500 to €2,400 for each egg. 

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