It was an amazing thing to watch. Shepherded by the watchful island wardens who kept them safe during this vulnerable time the turtles were massive and slow but relentless and the process was sometimes painful to watch as the effort required was so obviously exhausting for them.
After the turtles had laid their eggs and covered their nests and returned to the sea the wardens would mark some nests and retrieve the eggs from others, hedging their bets with nature, and hoping to increase the dwindling populations of sea turtles.
Those nests that were left were guarded and monitored and throughout the nesting and hatching season the hotels on the shore would turn off their lights to avoid confusing any hatchling sea turtles in their short but treacherous journey to the sea.
That was Mexico and this is Turkey and I thought the turtles were gone from this part of the coast and could only be found down around Dalyan but now the turtles have returned to the beaches here in Kusadasi. After a ten year hiatus a nest has been found down on the beach near Davutlar. It is cordoned off and guarded and there is hope that the species is truly returning to the area as if there is one nest there may be more, in fact there will certainly be more soon as every breeding female lays several nests of eggs during a season.
I’ve always had a very soft spot for turtles. I remember the nights we used to sit on the beach on Isla and watch them come ashore. Whole nights under a moonless sky with no sound but the grunt of the turtles and the hiss of falling sand as they slowly scooped out their nests. It was so mesmerising you couldn’t leave, you had to stay there and at least give moral support!
In 80 days those hatchlings down on Davutlar beach will burrow up out of their nests and head down the potential killing ground of the beach towards the breaking waves.
During that first short, perilous journey they will lose 20% of their bodyweight and once in the water they will swim as far away from land as possible and there they will stay, out in the deep, following the currents, feeding on the ocean streams before finally, maybe 20 years from now returning to nest near the beach where they hatched. This nest down on Davutlar’s hot sands is some daughter of Turkey coming home, her sisters may not be far behind her!
You can read a brief article about the nest find here – http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/id/25234064/ – it is in Turkish so you’ll have to translate it via Google.
If you want to learn more about loggerhead turtles in Turkey you could do a lot worse than read June Haimoff’s book (Kaptan June and the Dalyan Turtles) she’s been working to support the Dalyan turtles since 1984, and there is more about her work on her website here – http://www.kaptanjune.net/index.htm
I have such a soft spot for turtles myself as my almost 2 year old is obsessed calling them “tuttle”. She has us draw them for her anytime there is a pen in sight! Thanks for they link to the conservationist June also. As I live in Didim and have only seen one live one a one dead one in my 4 years here. If they are breeding again in kusadasi I wondering if there might be a place in didim? I actually got reconnected to your blog through caroline on facebook. I saw you are researching an article about Oya. This is my new obsession and was wondering where you will publish or what you may find out. My name is Emily I used to have the blog ohhhsweetturkey. Thanks and stay cool!
Hi, Oya is very cool, and it is one of those things that has been staring me in the face for years and I never thought about it. It was only when a Canadian guest went nuts for the stuff that I noticed properly! There have been a few articles about it around in the last few months, particularly in the Turkish press so I’m leaving it until Autumn to publish. Glad you like the blog. K xxx
As moving and touching as usual, beautiful writing, it brought a tear to my eye, and I really hope and pray that the turtles make it out alive… Thank you 🙂 x
Actually I really love the turtles and thinking about them brings back a lot of memories of Isla and our last summer there so I get a bit teary about it all. I really hope they hatch safe and I hope here becomes a safe breeding ground for them. K xxx
It sometimes seems so unfair that turtles have such a hard life at the outset. We love them in our house too – and we have a two year old terrapin called ‘Jaws’ who we’ve grown to love as he’s so responsive and comical. Fingers crossed for successful hatching and dashing when the time comes.
(Off to investigate what Oya is now!)
Lovely post, Karen, and another great turtle-fan here. I’ve only seen them in zoos and on TV unfortunately, but I was riveted to watch the hatchlings race for the sea in one of David Attenborough’s programmes. I really hope the Kusadasi nest is the first of many and that the eggs hatch safely.
Oh that’s so exciting! It gives me hope that, even though Kadinlar Denizi might be going to pits, the rest of the beaches in the area might remain clean and undisturbed…
Hi Karen, enjoyed the post; have passed this info to June who will be delighted. I’ll let you know her response in due course.
Great post! Don’t know what it is about Turtles… I’ve got a soft spot for them as well. I fell in love with them on Koh Tao (Turtle Island) in Thailand, where I encountered them whilst diving. Fast forward 10 years – and we saw countless Green Turtles off the coast of Kauai (where we got married). So many cultures hold Turtles in high esteem – symbolically they represent the link between heaven and earth, and because of their god-like resistance to aging – they represent “longevity”.
Let’s hope their appearance near Davutlar is another sign of their longevity…. keep us posted on the progress.
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