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Kaptan June Sea Turtle Foundation gets official go-ahead

DALYAN – Hürriyet Daily News | 2/28/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Environmentalists in Dalyan are rejoicing as Ankara authorities have given permission to the Kaptan June Sea Turtles Conservation Foundation to begin operations.

Environmentalists in Dalyan in the southwestern province of Muğla are rejoicing as Ankara authorities have given permission to the Kaptan June Sea Turtles Conservation Foundation to begin operations.

June Haimoff, or Kaptan June, the driving force behind the foundation, was busy baking a cake in her kitchen to serve, “with something in a glass” when the official news finally came through from Ankara, touching off celebrations.

Haimoff had been waiting with Yakup Kaska and a number of friends and supporters since the end of last year for news on the foundation. “Finally getting the news was a marvelous feeling,” she said.

On Jan. 1, Haimoff was awarded a Master of the British Empire, or MBE, by British Queen Elizabeth during the New Year’s Honors List, and the environmentalist said she was looking forward to being given the medal in May.

Never one to sit around, despite being in her late 80s, and with more energy than many half her age, Kaptan June is already planning for the future.

“We can start now work with the authority of the foundation behind us. This will provide us with a platform from which we can continue to increase local, national and international awareness and understanding about Sea Turtles, İztuzu Beach and further a field,” she said.

For Haimoff, the benefits the foundation will help develop for the local community are also important.

“We are fortunate to have local people like Abidin Kurt with us who will bring his knowledge and expertise to the foundation. We have many projects in the pipeline and I for one am looking forward to starting on one very close to my heart; a propeller guard for boats. Too many sea turtles are injured or killed this way every year,” she said.

It is great news that the foundation is now a reality, and this means we have to start publicizing our work with sea turtles in every way we can as public awareness and fundraising are crucial elements for all our projects,” said Kaska, an associate professor from Pamukkale University in Denizli.

“This is great news for the sea turtles and the environment,” said Muğla’s provincial director of the environment, Mehmet Şahin. “I have met with June Haimoff and Professor Yakup is someone I know well. We will do everything we can to help and support the new foundation.”

For many years, Kaptan June has been working with some of the biggest international names in conservation to protect the beach at İztuzu, Dalyan. One of them is world-famous activist David Bellamy; Bellamy and Haimoff met in a Dalyan restaurant in 1987 – he had heard about Kaptan June and the sea turtles and had come to see for himself, along with the British media.

Since then, Haimoff has harnessed his energy to great effect, resulting in this extraordinary beach being protected for future generations of sea turtles.

Haimoff explained that Bellamy’s maxim for Daylan was, “Take only photographs, leave only footprints.”

She also said there was a long way to go but it appears that the efforts to date have paid off in the latest victory for Kaptan June and the Sea Turtles of Dalyan.

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