The first batch of loggerhead turtles hatched and made their way into the sea at Iztuzu Beach, near Dalyan, on Wednesday.

Iztuzu Beach is one of the preferred loggerhead turtle nesting sites in the world and home to the Muğla-based Sea Turtles Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER) who watch over the site to ensure the loggerheads are not disturbed while laying their eggs and returning to the sea. The volunteers at DEKAMER protect the eggs and document the egg-laying process 24 hours a day in shifts.

Yakup Kaska, head of DEKAMER, told Anadolu Agency that the beach is shared by both tourists and turtles.

“Tourists can use the beach between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and it is reserved for the turtles at night,” he said.

There are 21 Caretta caretta nesting spots in the Aegean province of Muğla and the Mediterranean provinces of Antalya, Mersin, Adana, and Hatay.

Between May and September the female turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Using their back flippers, they scoop out a nest about 40cm deep, lay between 70 and 120 soft-shelled white eggs the size of ping-pong balls, and then cover them over again. If disturbed, the females may abandon the nests and return to the sea.

Volunteers build cages around the nests to mark them and as a warning to tourists. Beaches with nests are closed after dark.

Turtle Alert - make a positive difference for sea turtles

After a 45-65-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.

Turtle Alert - make a positive difference for sea turtles
A newly hatched baby turtşe makes its way to the sea at sunset. Diviac Magazine – PADI Travel

Caretta carettas have also started hatching in Çıralı beach located in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.

Hüseyin Karameşe, governor of Kemer district, said that at least 85 babies have hatched.

Mother turtles laid eggs two months ago along the 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles) of the shore, he added.

“No one is allowed to enter the beach after 9:00 p.m. Officers also check the nests during the night until sunrise,” he concluded.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News