Hatching season of sea turtles over in renowned Çıralı Beach
The last newborn Caretta carettas, or loggerhead sea turtles, have finally made their way to the Mediterranean Sea in world-famous Çıralı Beach at the end of hatching season, monitored closely by activists for endangered animals.
Nearly 3,000 baby Caretta carettas hatched from their eggs in 124 nests on the beach in the southern province of Antalya’s Kemer district embarked on their difficult journey after meeting the sea. But most of them will be back in years to lay their eggs.
“We have completed the sea turtle protection and monitoring activities for the 2021 season. We opened our last nests all together,” said Habib Altınkaya, the chair of Ulupınar Environmental Protection Cooperative.
“In 2021 we had 124 nests on our beach. Around 9,000 eggs hatched from these nests. Some 3,024 of them reached the sea alive,” Altınkaya noted, adding that more than half of the eggs are either early or late embryonic.
Thanking the local authorities, security forces and all public institutions for their support, Altınkaya called all activists to meet up at the same place in the 2022 season.
Meanwhile, a record was broken at İztuzu Beach in the Aegean province of Muğla, which closed the season last week, with 42,000 baby turtles reaching the sea from 735 nesting areas.
Professor Yakup Kaska, the project coordinator at the Sea Turtle Research and Rescue Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER) told state-run Anadolu Agency that there has been a great increase in the number of baby turtles on the coast of İztuzu this year.
“As of this season, 735 nests have been identified on İztuzu beach and we have successfully brought around 42,000 of our baby turtles together with the sea,” he noted.
Kaska also stated that this figure remained at around 36,000 last year, adding that the number of nests has doubled in the last five years.
Some 500,000 baby sea turtles are expected to reach the sea from the Turkish beaches every year, however, a vast majority of them cannot survive, falling prey to fish.
After a 45- to 65-day incubation period, hatchlings try to reach the sea by following the moonlight, but artificial light often confuses them, making them lose their way and die.
During the hatching season, streetlamps get turned off along the shoreline, with a driver being fined 60,000 Turkish Liras ($6,750) for entering the beaches.
Activists and officials are also on guard to ensure a safe passage for turtles whose nesting grounds are occasionally threatened by beachgoers unaware of their presence.
However, last August, a group of volunteers tracing the nesting and breeding of endangered species found carcasses of 60 newborn turtles who died after getting trapped under a walkway on a beach outside a five-star hotel in Antalya’s Belek district.