Caretta carettas under protection on Turkish coasts
HATAY / MUĞLA
Sea turtles continue to lay eggs until the end of June and the hatchings continue from the beginning of August to the end of September. AA photosEndangered caretta carettas and the green turtles (chelonia mydas), which are under protection, began laying eggs on the coast in the southern province of Hatay’s Samandağ district.
As the egg laying season has started for the sea turtles, hundreds of turtle nests began to appear on the Samandağ coast, the longest in Turkey with 14.5 kilometers. Samandağ District Governor’s Office Scientific Research Center official and Sivas Cumhuriyet University member Bektaş Sönmez said that the egg laying season had started in June and they had so far determined some 300 nests, expecting it to reach 500 until the end of the season.
Sönmez said the turtles would continue to lay eggs until the end of June and the hatchings would continue from the beginning of August to the end of September. Sönmez said they were also struggling against some problems threatening the turtle nests.
“We are working to protect these nests. Among these problems is coastal erosion, water flooding, predatory animals such as jackals and foxes, and lights that disorient baby turtles and cause them to travel away from the sea. This year, we are trying to protect turtle nests with cages above and under the sand. These precautionary measures are carried out in collaboration with the National Parks General Directorate and Samandağ Environmental Protection and Tourism Association. Volunteer university students from different Turkish towns support these efforts,” Sönmez said.
He said the main goal on the coast was to increase the number of baby turtles and get them to reach to the sea healthily. He said, “Approximately 500-6000 turtles come to the Samandağ coast in every season. They lay some 100-150 eggs and 70-80 babies are born. It means that every season, approximately 30-35,000 turtles meet the sea.”
Samandağ Environmental Protection and Tourism Association Chairman Mişel Atik said they had been protecting the nests of sea turtles on the Samandağ coast since 1991, adding, “Sea turtles have a strong presence here, so much so that they can become the mascot of Hatay. We have been working with the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs for three years on the protection of turtles. Our goal is to provide the survival of this species.”
The turtles that lay eggs on the Samandağ coast are registered by the association’s volunteers.
Volunteers on western coasts
Another important breeding ground for sea turtles is the İztuzu Beach in the western province of Muğla’s Ortaca district. The turtles here are being protected by volunteer students, too.
Nearly 25,000 turtles meet the sea in every season on the İztuzu Beach. Volunteers, who are working for the Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER), conduct the treatment and rehabilitation of wounded turtles that are brought to the center. They also protect the turtle nests from animals.
DEKAMER General Coordinator Ahmet Yavuz Candan, speaking to Anadolu Agency, said they were accepting volunteer students from universities in Turkey and around the world with the condition of staying for one month.
“The lowest age limit is 18 for our volunteers. We accept everyone who has a strong body. For example, we have a 52-year-old volunteer on our team at the moment. Our most important condition is the ability to speak English because this is an international group. Being able to communicate in English is enough. These volunteers should be animal lovers, as well,” Candan said.