There have been two events held recently, where the focus has been on sea turtles.

One is very large and international, the other very small and local to Fethiye but

both are essential if these amazing and ancient marine creatures are to survive.

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling: courtesy of Tahsin Ceylan
Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling: courtesy of Tahsin Ceylan

At one event there were young children, for whom environmental awareness is just

beginning and at the other, three extraordinary elders, who have tirelessly

campaigned and battled for decades against the destruction of sea turtles

and the habitats in which they struggle to survive.

Between them they are doing all they can to tell the whole world, as much as

their local communities that sea turtles are not merely tourism ‘symbols’,

they are a vital part of the planets biodiversity and that looking after their

habitats is something in which we can all play a part.

Sea Turtles, the Mediterranean and Muğla’s beaches

The last Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling of the season
The last Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling of the season on Çalış beach

The Mediterranean waters and beaches of the Gulf of Fethiye and nearby

TRM_Calis
Part of Çalış beach

Iztuzu beach in Dalyan, are significant for sea turtles and play a vital role

in their survival.

İztuzu beach
İztuzu beach

During the next few months Caretta caretta (Loggerhead sea turtles)

and to a lesser extent Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), will visit the

coastal waters around Fethiye and Dalyan to breed.

Shortly afterwards the females will come ashore onto the beaches,

where they will lay their eggs.

Loggerhead Turtle by Tahsin Ceylan 5

Living together on the same planet

Sea turtles have been living on planet earth for more than 100 million years

and only for a small fraction of that time have they had to share it with humans.

Moreover, it has only been for the last few decades that sea turtles have been sharing

their habitats with humans, their rubbish and all the other stuff that comes with mass tourism.

When litter is a killer

One of the many problems facing sea turtles around the world is litter and a lack of

knowledge about how vulnerable sea turtles and their habitats have become and

Fethiye is no exception.

Litter can kill sea turtlesAnd litter can be fatal for sea turtles at all stages of their (hopefully) long lives.

Sea turtles can live for a 100 years but a careless action by a human can have

tragic consequences.

DEKAMER Iztuzu

Here are two examples:

A human throws away a plastic cup on the beach. One night a tiny hatchling,

heading for the sea ends up in the cup. It can’t escape, so it dies.

plastic-bags

Adult turtles are known to mistake plastic bags floating in the sea for their

favourite food, jellyfish, and suffer a slow painful death.

While no would do this deliberately, this is what happens.

Plastic bags can be fatal for turtles: courtesy of cafnec.org
Plastic bags can be fatal for turtles: courtesy of cafnec.org

Learning about litter and sea turtles

In about a month from now, female Loggerhead sea turtles will begin

to make their night time visits to Fethiye’s beaches to lay their eggs.

Aware of this, a local group called Sea Shore Savers organised an

event last weekend. On Saturday 18th April they painted tee shirts

with a turtle emblem.

Çalış Kids' Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward
Çalış Kids’ Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward

These had been generously donated by Carole and Guven of

Guven’s Restaurant.

On the Sunday morning at 11am around 30 children and their families

met on Çalış Beach where they had a short talk by Pinar and Okyay Tirli

from TEMA about the effect of litter on the sea turtles and the environment.

Çalış Kids' Club: courtesy of Kate Topcu
Çalış Kids’ Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward

How long did you say?

The children had a quiz on how long various types of garbage take

to decompose. Did you know, for example, that a crisp packet takes

1000 years? If you think that’s a long time, a glass bottle and a

styrofoam cup takes 1 million plus years. Yes, really…

The children did really well at guessing!

Çalış Kids' Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward
Çalış Kids’ Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward

Naming a sea turtle

The youngsters then met a ‘sea turtle’ which was actually made from

recycled waste, including yoghourt pots, plastic containers (found earlier

on Karataş beach), egg boxes and newspapers.

Asked to chose a name for it, they wrote their ideas on pieces of paper and

Arzu Erkimen from the Ingiliz Evi in Günlükbaşı picked one from a pot.

Çalış Kids' Club: courtesy of Kate Topcu
Çalış Kids’ Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward

The winner was Florrie Killon, who had chosen the name ‘Lizzie Heart’

Eventually the sea turtle will go to live with TEMA.

Collecting garbage for sea turtles

The children spent 30 minutes collecting rubbish from the beach,

which included everything from cigarette butts, lighters, plastic bags

and bottles, bits of plastic and bottle tops as well as lots and lots of

fishing line. This rubbish will be sorted and cleaned before being used

to make a sculpture next week at Çalış Kids Club.

Çalış Kids' Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward
Çalış Kids’ Club: courtesy of Lyn Ward

Everyone learnt a lot and had a great time and hopefully their message

about looking after our beach and sea so that the turtles can thrive will

be noticed!

The group plans to continue with their mission throughout the summer

months and will have other beach clearing events.

They will be using the rubbish they find for various art projects.

35th International Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation Symposium

Meanwhile, over at the Dalaman Hilton Resort and Spa in Sarıgerme

there was a very different ‘turtle’ event, on a much bigger scale.

Professor Yakup Kaska from Pamukkale University and president of ISTS35
Professor Yakup Kaska from Pamukkale University and president of ISTS35

Organised by this year’s ISTS president, Professor Yakup Kaska

of Pamukkale University, the conference brought together more than 850

turtle academics, NGO workers and volunteers from 80 countries,

including Tanzania, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia, Costa Rica,

USA and Peru.

850 delegates from 80 countries
850 delegates from 80 countries

One of the many highlights of the annual event was the presence of two

doyennes of sea turtle and environmental conservation:

Lilly Venizelos, from MEDASSET and June Haimoff.

June invited her old friend and ally, David Bellamy, arguably one of the

most dynamic and controversial environmental campaigners of his generation.

Lilly Venizelos, June Haimoff and David Bellamy
Lilly Venizelos, June Haimoff and David Bellamy

ISTS35: a first for Turkey

In a busy schedule of discussions, debates and other events, the most

recent and dynamic research on all aspects of sea turtle, freshwater and

land turtle biology and conservation was discussed.

The 35th International Sea Turtle Symposium is the most important conference

of it’s kind in the world and as it is the first time it is being held in Turkey

it is a great honour and privilege for the country.

It was also an opportunity for two hundred Turkish academics to get together,

as well as officials from important nesting regions like Mersin and dignitaries

from Ortaca, Dalaman and Muğla, to share information on how important

the protection and conservation of sea turtles is to the country.

A visit to İztuzu beach

One beach that the delegates are hoping to visit while at the conference

is İztuzu in Dalyan. This beach has the regions only rehabilitation centre for injured

or sick sea turtles. DEKAMER is also the inspiration of Yakup Kaska.

DEKAMER at İztuzu, Dalyan
DEKAMER at İztuzu, Dalyan

The beach is also the home of Kaptan June’s Sea Turtle Foundation.

new hut

Bringing Biology and Social Science together

Professor Oğuz Türkozan from Pamukkale University and Dr Davina Stanford from Leeds Beckett University
Professor Oğuz Türkozan from Pamukkale University and Dr Davina Stanford from Leeds Beckett University

A social science based workshop, the first of its kind for ISTS,

was organised by Fethiye based journalist and writer, Jane Akatay.

With travel sponsorship provided by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism,

she invited Dr Davina Stanford, a tourism expert from Leeds Beckett University

to discuss the importance of how best to communicate environmental awareness

in sea turtle areas with tourists and local residents through the use of persuasive

communication, including the use of thought provoking signs and other media.

If you would like to learn more about turtles and tourism here is an information

packed short film:

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. It would be great if they put up notices and some more bins as we noticed there are lots of bags bottles cans ect the government should also do more to keep it clean to help save the turtles and other species of the seaworld also to keep the beaches a nicer place but the public need to not be lazy and leave it there in the first place !! Make it an offense and fine people !!

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