Turkish ministry warns businesses by sea turtle beaches must adhere to rules
Meltem Özgenç - ANKARAThe Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry has issued warnings to businesses active in 21 areas where sea turtles nest in Turkey, asking them to follow rules when laying out sunbeds and umbrellas and to turn off their lights at night during spawning season.
The general manager of the Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP), Nurettin Taş, requested that businesses comply with the rules in order to protect the sea turtles (caretta carettas), which reproduce between May and September.
Noting that it was important for the turtles to nest and lay eggs in appropriate circumstances, Taş said there were a total of 21 nesting points in Turkey, all in the southern provinces of Muğla, Antalya, Mersin, Adana and Hatay.
“There is no other country in the world that has as many nesting beaches as Turkey. In 2016, some 575,152 sea turtles reached their areas of habitat in the sea from these areas,” Taş said, adding that sea turtles only visit beaches to lay eggs.
“Their nesting period is between May and September. More commitment and attention is needed regarding the usage of beaches especially in this period. Businesses should pay attention to the warnings on using umbrellas and sunbeds on beaches during sea turtle reproduction season,” he also said.
Taş also said the baby turtles come out of their eggs in two months if their nests are not destroyed or harmed.
“Their nesting activities are generally between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Since there is no sex chromosome in turtles, the gender of the infant is determined by the temperature of the nest. The birth period is some 50 or 65 days in the beaches in our country. In this process of nesting and laying eggs, maximum efforts should be shown to provide sea turtles with appropriate conditions,” he added.
Noting that businesses on the beaches should darken their establishments between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., Taş said they could also use sodium lamps with low pressure and high wavelength that give off a red or yellow color.
“We expect them to enhance the living areas of sea turtles in their reproduction season by being more sensitive on issues such as checking for harm to nests … and changing the places of the nests,” he also said.
As a result of efforts to protect sea turtles conducted by universities and volunteer institutions that were coordinated by the DKMP, 5,273 caretta caretta nests were found along the 143.7-kilometer-long coastline in 2016. In addition, authorities also found 2,971 Chelonia Mydas nests.
Some 337,472 caretta carettas and 237,680 Chelonia Mydas reached the sea from these nests.