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ANIMALS > Five star health service to sea turtles under speetboat threat

MUĞLA - Anatolia News Agency

The Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in the Aegean province of Muğla is the only place in Turkey where sea turtles, which are often injured by speedboats during the summer, can be treated

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The Sea Turtle  Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center has so far received 56 sea 
turtles and 21 of them have been treated and left to the sea. AA photos

The Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center has so far received 56 sea turtles and 21 of them have been treated and left to the sea. AA photos

Turkey’s only Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER), in the Aegean province of Muğla’s Dalyan district, offers a five-star health service to sea turtles.

The director of the center, Professor Yakup Kaska, said it opened five years ago on the İztuzu beach, and that they had received 56 wounded sea turtles from various regions over the course of five years.
 
Kaska said 26 sea turtles had been treated and returned to the sea and that nine sea turtles were currently still under treatment. “We were not able to save 21 turtles, the ones that were heavily injured by speedboats. Now nine sea turtles - one is a green sea turtle - are being treated in our center. All unfortunately have rotor and fishing string wounds. We request people to be more sensitive about the issue.”

Kaska said the wounds of the turtles could often be detected with X-rays, and that they had requested X-ray and ultrasound machines from Pammukale University. “The rector of the university, Professor Hüseyin Bağcı, sent the machines, which were not being used at the university, to our center. We have just begun using them.” He said an injured sea turtle first had an X-ray, before conducting other operations. “For example, if we see a fishing line or fishing hook inside the animal, we remove it with an operation. If there is a broken bone in the animal, we can see it thanks to the X-ray and create the treatment program. Also, we can find out how long the animal has been without food by using blood tests.”

The ultrasound machine is used to determine whether female sea turtles have eggs, and the treatment program is adjusted according to this.

“DEKAMER is Turkey’s pride. We can do every type of treatment that the world’s best centers do. Our center also hosts international meetings. When we return sea turtles to the sea after finishing their treatment they are followed for a long time. During the treatment process the animals are kept in 22 separate tanks. These tanks are especially designed to provide the animal with a sea environment,” Kaska said.

He added that tourists in the town showed great interest in the center, and that it had been visited by 150,000 people in five years.
“We also make a presentation to visitors of the center. Turkish and foreign volunteers are working for the center, and they work for at least one month. In June, we have had a total of 16 volunteers, five from Germany, Egypt and Poland,” Kaska said.

A very rare species

Speaking about a green sea turtle currently being looked after at the center, Kaska said it had been injured by a speedboat in the Mediterranean region and that its treatment was still ongoing. He said this turtle was a particularly rare species and that they estimated it was about 80 years old.

“It was most probably injured by a speedboat. Its treatment began after we conducted an X-ray. It is 1.10 meters long and 75 kilograms in weight. Its species is almost extinct; they come to the coasts of Mersin, Hatay and Adana to lay eggs, and to the coasts of Antalya and Muğla to find food. We are giving antibiotics to the animal and estimate that its treatment will be finished in a week. We are also working for the establishment of a sea turtle center in the Hatay and Mersin provinces, where these animals are regularly seen.”

June/30/2012

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