Baby Caretta carettas crushed by two aggressors on ATVs
While riding their all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), two men have killed some 16 Caretta caretta hatchlings on a beach in the southern province of Antalya, through which the endangered baby sea creatures reach the Mediterranean Sea.
The disturbing incident happened at the Mendirek beach in the Manavgat district’s Sorgun neighborhood late on Sept. 1.
Two men rode their ATVs at full throttle on the beach, crushing two encircled Caretta caretta nests.
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is a marine reptile belonging to the family of Cheloniiae, with an average carapace length of around 90 centimeters when fully grown.
Seher Akyol, the head of the Association of Sea Turtles, Mediterranean Monk Seals and Sea Daffodils (DEKAFOK), and Stefan Feuchtinger, an Austrian volunteer, who were at the beach for guarding the turtles, tried to stop the two aggressors.
“One of them rode the ATV toward one of the volunteers and ran over his head and arm,” Akyol told Demirören News Agency early on Sept. 2.
The injured volunteer, Feuchtinger, who was immediately hospitalized, is presently in good condition.
“We tried to warn them about the Caretta carettas. They did not care,” Akyol noted.
According to the association manager, some baby hatchlings were already on the move toward the sea when the men on ATVs were on the beach.
“We were in hurry to pick up the babies, but 16 were crushed to death,” she added.
She also made a call to authorities to punish the two men harshly, expressing, “We hope such an incident never happens again.”
Turkey is one of the most important nesting areas in the Mediterranean where two of the seven sea turtle species nest and lay their eggs.
Every year in early summer, Caretta carettas come to some 20 beaches in six provinces: Antalya, Mersin, Adana, Hatay in Mediterranean and Muğla, Aydın in the Aegean regions.
The sea creatures lay between 50-150 eggs by digging. Two months later, Caretta caretta hatchlings reach the sea, but statistically, only one of every 1000 babies can reach puberty.
The ATV attack is not the first incident of the summer that caused the deaths of Caretta carettas in Antalya province.
Late in August, authorities opened investigations to three five-star hotels in the Belek district, that placed sunbeds for their vacationers on the beach where the Caretta carettas hatched.
Around 60 baby sea turtles died by being crushed under the wooden walking platforms, the hotel managements laid for the holidaymakers to walk their way to the beach.
“All these human factors endanger the lives of the sea turtles that live on earth for 110 million years,” Ali Fuat Canbolat, the head of Ecological Researches Association (EKAD), told daily Hürriyet.