Caretta caretta break record at ancient Patara beach

Caretta caretta break record at ancient Patara beach

Caretta caretta break record at ancient Patara beach

The number of endangered caretta caretta (loggerhead) sea turtles broke a record this year on the 18-kilometer ancient Patara beach in the southern province of Antalya.

Patara beach in Antalya’s Kaş district is one of 22 reproduction and nesting areas of caretta caretta in Turkey.

The turtles that come to the beach beginning in May laid eggs until August. The baby turtles hatched from their eggs until Sept. 15.

This year, the ancient beach hosted the highest number of caretta caretta nests of all time, which was 286. The number of eggs in 286 nests was 21,821, and 17,323 baby turtles reached the sea among 17,421 turtles that hatched out of these nests.

Pamukkale University Department of Biology Professor Eyüp Başkale, who follows caretta carettas with a volunteer team on the Patara beach, said that before the nesting period, they cleaned up the garbage left by people on the beach and prepared the coast for the turtles.

He said that the works were carried out with support of the Directorate General for Preservation of Natural Heritage along with the Municipality of Kaş and non-governmental organizations in the region.

Stating that there were 23 nests per kilometer throughout the coast, Başkale said, “This year we worked with 10 volunteer friends in Patara for the protection of sea turtles. The nesting period started on May 15 and lasted until August 10. During this time, 286 nests were formed, and we caged all of these nests for protection. We have seen a large increase in the number of nests and babies.”

The professor said that the average of reaching the sea was also higher than in previous years.

“In the past years, the maximum number of nests was 254 on the beach, and it was 286 this year. We reached the maximum number of nests of all time. The number of eggs left in the nest was 14,433 in the previous years, and it reached 21,821 this year. Some 17,421 babies hatched out of these nests, and among them, 17,323 reached the sea. The average hatching of the babies also reached 79 percent this year from 42 percent in previous years,” the professor said.

Causes of death fishing and boats

Başkale said that the coast was surrounded with sand dunes, adding, “Sand erosion and sand storms are causing negative effects on the breeding area. These are natural causes, but we carry out research in our center on dead baby and adult caretta carettas that come to the shore. As a result of our research, we found that the majority of the causes of death of these turtles were fishing activities and boat crashes.”

Stating that this year’s number were pleasing in terms of the future of sea turtles, Başkale said, “Sixty-four sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach were marked to be followed in the next nesting periods. We conducted some studies to determine the gender of the babies. Nearly 70 percent of the babies born in Patara are female. This shows that Patara has a female-prone population.”

He said that the Patara beach belonged to the caretta carettas between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., and people are forbidden to enter the beach.

“This is their living space. The beach belongs to people from eight in the morning to eight in the evening. These rules are reminded by the warning signs on the plates starting from the entrance road of the beach. However, people enter the beach in the evening. They camp and light up. They sometimes enter the beach even on a motorcycle. We ask our citizens: Caretta caretta turtles are endangered species in the world. They are under protection. Patara Beach is also a wealth of our country. Be sensitive about it. Do not enter the beach at night during the nesting period. Don’t play with the nests.”