Ozlem, an injured Loggerhead turtle, was released back to the sea on Saturday afternoon by the team from Pammukale University based on Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan.
The Turtle research, rescue and rehabilitation centre on Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan (DEKAMER) opened in June 2008.
The project is staffed by a team of specialists from Pammukale University, Denizli led by Doctor Yakup Kaska with support from a number of national and local bodies.
The centre is very basic consisting of a few portable buildings and a covered area under which large circular tanks are situated to hold the rescued turtles. Despite this the team are having a high success rate in treating injured turtles.
We spoke with Yakup prior to the release of Ozlem to find out more about the unique centre.
He told us that since they opened they have helped 13 turtles recover from various injuries. He showed us the six turtles currently in care and explained how each one had been injured.
One turtle has a large hole in its shell exposing its flesh and spine. It is thought this turtle had been injured when it was run over by a boat with the propeller cutting deep into the very hard shell.
One called Lucky was missing its front flippers believed to have been caused when the turtle got caught in fishing line.
Another had been rescued with fishing line hanging out of its mouth. When the team checked the turtle a very large fishing hook was found lodged in its throat that was later removed by surgery.
Yakup said: “Ingestion of fishing hooks is a common occurrence. The turtles graze on seaweeds on the sea bed and sometimes fishing hooks and lines that have been lost become ingested. If the turtles are not found then there is a high chance they will die either from their injuries or from starvation as they can’t eat.”
He then showed us four jam jars containing fishing line and hooks that had been removed from turtles brought to the centre.
He also said “Another common risk for turtles are plastic bags discarded at sea. The turtle’s mistake them for jelly fish, one of its staple foods, and once ingested can suffocate the creature.”
We then asked how the team was funded “Pammukale University provide the majority of our funding at present but we have also received generous private donations for the purchase of additional tanks. We plan to set up a foundation soon so we can secure additional money from government and private sources. “
We were impressed with the team not least because they have to be the most organised and pleasant environmental group we have met in a long time.
Return to the Sea
Ozlem, estimated to be around 45 to 50 years old, is a Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta).
She was found on July 19th on the lake side of the beach at Iztuzu with fishing line entangled around her front flippers that resulted in injuries to the flesh.
After 3 months in the care of the team she was tagged and released back into her natural habitat on Saturday afternoon.
A large crowd of spectators and local dignitaries gathered on the beach as the sun set to watch the rare event.
The team transported Ozlem from the centre via a cradle and placed her on the beach just before the water line.
In an instant her flippers started to move and she headed into the sea. Some of the crowd followed her into the water as she headed off into the sunset to resume her life.
Click on the video window right to watch her release.
If you would like to see the work being carried out by the team to can call into the centre on Iztuzu Beach near Dalyan.