Foundation aims to protect turtles in Dalyan with a petition campaign
According to the Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation, the ecological balance of the natural foraging and migration patterns of the turtles has been seriously disturbed by tourists feeding the turtles during turtle watch tours. Hürriyet photosDalyan, a small tourist village in the Aegean province of Muğla, is a popular holiday destination because of its pristine İztuzu Beach as well as a prime nesting habitat for the endangered loggerhead turtle.
The beach and its hinterland have special protected area (SPA) status to help preserve the endangered turtle species.
The nongovernmental organization Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation claims that the turtles are harmed by turtle watching tours, organized for tourists in the area, and has started a new petition campaign to prevent the baiting and teasing of the endangered loggerhead turtles.
According to the foundation, the ecological balance of the natural foraging and migration patterns of the turtles has been seriously disturbed by tourists.
“The food the turtles are made dependent on does not contain all the nutrients they need; loggerheads run a much greater risk of being injured or killed by fishing lines and propellers; the undue turtle density and the food competition at feeding places cause stressed behavior; the stress among the loggerheads provokes attacks on conspecifics and tourists; turtles may suffer from intestine problems due to alien food they cannot digest,” the group said in a statement.
The foundation claims that tourists usually don’t realize loggerhead turtles are solitary creatures that normally would not appear if they were not being fed.
“In fact that is the only reason why some tour operators and boatmen offer a ‘money-back guarantee’ and ensure that tourists will definitely see them on their trips. The turtles are baited with crab, fish or – even worse – chicken skin and teased to show them in all their splendor. This practice comes at a high price,” the foundation said.
On its special petition website, www.dalyanturtles.com/petition, the foundation provides background information, photos and links to the petition urging enforcement of existing legislation to ban the practice of baiting. Apart from appealing to the Turkish authorities, the foundation also plans to approach tour operators in Europe to urge them not to include any Turtle Watch Tours in their 2013 excursion programs.
The Dalyan Boat Cooperative chairman, Atilla Gültekin, denied the allegations. He told the Hürriyet Daily News, “We bring tourists on blue crab hunts only. Sometimes, they feed the turtles the crabs they catch. This is the turtles’ natural food.” He said they did nothing to harm the turtles. “We have been misunderstood, and we will make a public statement on the issue.”
‘Dalyan Delta is not a zoo’
According to the foundation, turtles should not be fed, baited or teased for the amusement of tourists. The Köyceğiz-Dalyan SPA should be protected in accordance with the wildlife legislation, which is as follows.
- The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats states that “the deliberate disturbance of wild fauna, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation, in so far as disturbance would be significant in relation to the objectives of the convention” is forbidden.
- The Turkish Animal Protection Law states that the purpose of the law is “to ensure that animals are afforded a comfortable life and receive good and proper treatment, to protect them in the best manner possible from the infliction of pain, suffering and torture, and to prevent all types of cruel treatment.“