The beaches along the Fethiye coastline, including the long and sandy Çalış, Koca Çalış and Yanıklar Beaches, Fethiye are some of the most important for the incubation of Loggerhead Sea Turtle eggs in the Mediterranean.
From May onwards, the female sea turtles start to arrive at the beaches along the coast to lay their eggs.
Assuming they are not disturbed, they arrive at night, make their way up the beach and laboriously dig a hole in which they then lay up to 100 eggs.
Slowly but surely they cover them with sand before returning to the sea.
This year students from Hacitepe University in Ankara are studying, recording and protecting the turtles. Tourists and endangered sea turtles are now sharing these beaches, and with continue to do so until the end of September or even October.
Therefore, the team of experts have asked that anyone using the beaches following this important advice.
The students patrol the beach from 11pm every evening keeping an eye out for signs of sea turtles nesting.
Whenever they find a new nest on the beach they place a special wire cage over it.
These are designed to stop beach users from inadvertently disturbing the nests.
For example, the pole from a sunshade could easy destroy the eggs and a sun bed placed over a nest could reduce the temperature of the sand underneath to the point where the eggs stop developing.
It is also essential that people using the beach are aware that even placing a towel on top of a nest, or filling the cage with litter, could either delay or prevent incubation because the shading of the sand from the sun reduces the temperature.
The students are also protecting the turtles from well meaning onlookers who are inadvertently worrying these shy creatures.
Camera flashes, torches and close contact are just some of the things that can confuse or frighten the arriving turtles and put them off laying their eggs.
The students are helping warn onlookers so that the turtles can do what nature intended unimpeded.
It takes between 45 and 60 days to incubate the eggs in the hot sand after which the young turtles will burrow out of the nest and head for the sea.
So the seas should be full of tiny turtles around the end of August and during September.
Very few of the hatchlings survive to maturity and human interference, from boats’ propellors and fishing-lines, let alone tourist activity on beaches reduces their chances even further, but those females that do make it to adulthood will come back to the very same stretch of beach where they hatched 20 years before.
This remarkable natural mystery is yet another reason why everyone using Fethiye’s beaches should do their bit to protect these extraordinary creatures.