Who would have believed there would be Caretta Turtles nesting on a Mahmutlar Beach.
Well seeing is believing and here is the true story of last night’s amazing adventure .
We have captured it all on 4 short movies for you all below.
Last night we were totally exhausted. We had had a very busy fortnight and had again been working all day and all evening. We had found around 12 good new properties for sale in the area and had already entered 6 of the best ones onto our various websites and pages. It had been baking hot for days and that was starting to take its toll so, rare for us, we decided to have an early night.
Just as we were turning off the living room lights we received a missed call on our Turkish mobile. While we were checking who had called, the phone caller was persistent and had started calling us a second time. It was Ahmed from Izzys Beach Club, Mahmutlar.
Despite the lateness of the call he didn’t need to apologise or explain himself – we knew why he was ringing us.
‘5 minutes‘ we said, ‘we will be there’ and dropped everything and rushed off to Izzys Beach as fast as we could.
Around a month ago Izzy and Ahmed told us that they some very special new guests at the beach restaurant. Not the kind of guests they were expecting. Late in the evening several female Caretta Turtles had made their way to Izzy’s Beach and laid eggs.
There were at least 5 nesting sites and Izzy had already set to work to make sure the areas where the eggs lay were cornered off and protected. He wanted to ensure they remained undisturbed, for their long two month incubation periods.
We actually thought the phone call was to say the eggs were hatching …… but no….. the reason we had the call was that another pregnant Caretta Turtle had made the incredible journey back to her nesting ground on Izzy’s Beach.
By the time we arrived she had already laid her eggs and was covering up the nest. We just couldn’t risk approaching the area and setting up any equipment. She soon started making her way to the water again. There was too little time to organise ourselves, we managed a few stills and then she was gone!
A little disappointed we made our way up to the bar for a cold beer.
Then about 20 minutes later one of Izzy’s staff was having a break by the water’s edge and spotted another turtle emerging from the water. He sent a message to us straight away.
We made our way down to the beach keeping a good distance away so she could feel confortable choosing where she wanted to lay her eggs. She took quite a time finding just the right spot and so we had time to set up the camera with a good zoom lens and adjust the settings to night vision. That meant we could get a close up view without getting close at all and get a picture with no extra lights to disturb her.
Her chosen place was squashed right in the middle of two sunbeds with a table in the middle in front of her.
Lying down on the floor many metres away Gray managed to capture every second, this time with the camera rolling. Through the zoom lens he could see her digging deep into the sand with her back flippers until she was almost vertical, throwing huge scoops of sand and stones away which landed metres away from her on the beach.
IZZYS CARETTA TURTLES, IZZYS BEACH CLUB MAHMUTLAR; DIGGING THE NEST
Once her nest was deep enough she started to lay the eggs. If you watch closely you can see her pushing and straining to get them out.
IZZYS CARETTA TURTLES, IZZYS BEACH CLUB MAHMUTLAR; LAYING THE EGGS
After she was finished she had a brief rest and then started filling in the nest and patting the sand down on top of the eggs.
IZZYS CARETTA TURTLES, IZZYS BEACH CLUB MAHMUTLAR; COVERING THE NEST
All finished and with the eggs safely buried we could use some light to record, in colour, her journey back to the sea. The footage is still a little grainy as we did not want to distress her in any way with a bright light, but it was bright enough to film. She was very happy and not a bit perturbed about the additional light. She was particularly happy when that first wave covers her head and she knows she has made it! Her tiring journey and labour is over.
IZZYS CARETTA TURTLES, IZZYS BEACH CLUB MAHMUTLAR; JOURNEY BACK TO THE OCEAN
Caretta Turtles and all of the sea turtle species living throughout the world have been designated as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Turkey is also among the countries that undertake to protect the sea turtles and their habitats. Like the other sea turtles, these species spend their entire life in the sea and come to beaches only to dig a nest and lay their eggs.
In the Caretta Carettas’ life cycle, each maturing generation returns to the beach it was born for reproduction. They mate in the shallow water of the beach they recognise, thanks to a million-year genetic memory and bury their eggs into the nests they open in the sand of the same beach.
The Caretta Carettas reach sexual maturity at 25 and reproduce in March, April and May. Their egg-laying season is the months of June, July and August. In order to lay the eggs fertilised with the sperms they store and keep alive, the females bury about 90-100 eggs into the holes they open in the beach at a frequency of 4 to 8 times a night at 12-13 day intervals.
Turkey is one of the few places left in the world where they are still laying their eggs and they will travel thousands and thousands of kilometres to get back to their own hatching ground to lay their clutch.
Due to their infancy they are very vulnerable to natural predators, but many eggs are laid to the ensure the survival of the species. Each nest contains up to 100 eggs. When these new little ones hatch it will be 25 years before they reach adulthood and make their way home. Due to their tiny size they are very vulnerable to natural predators, but many eggs are laid to the ensure the survival of the species.
Volkan’s Adventures website has some great information about the Caretta Turtles in Dalyan telling us;
‘Incubation lasts two months, and if the temperature of the sand is above 37° centigrade during this period, all of the young in the nest become females and cooler temperatures produce male offspring. The eggs hatch while the parching heat of the sun burns the sand, but the young, upon instinct, wait for the dark and cool hours of night to dig the sand and tread on each other to get out. Then they run towards the pale glint of the sea with all their might and jump into the salty water. Nature has equipped them with two special devices in their competition on the thin line that separates life and death. The Loggerheads with two features that help them in their race to defy death. The tusk-like projection on the heads of the young turtles enables them to crack the shell of the egg and then disappears in time. A pea-size accumulation of fat in their abdomen is the energy stock they require to reach the sea quickly.
This race to live and die is full of obstacles, most of which are man-made. If there are bright lights on the beach due to camps and facilities, the young go inland towards them instead of the sea. When they fall into the deep tracks of car wheels and holes they are mostly unable to get out and fall prey to seagulls, crabs and other carnivores when the sun rises or dehydrate and die. Reaching the sea does not guarantee life for these cute little turtles They have to swim 24 hours non-stop to reach open seas in order to avoid the large predatory fish that wait for them in the coastal waters.’
So the turtles laying eggs on Izzys beach either were hatched there 25 or more years ago, or they hatched on another beach close by which is not inaccessible to them. We don’t know how many years there have been turtles on this particular beach – maybe people just didn’t realise but they were coming and going. Maybe this is a new event and for whatever reason the turtles are finding Izzy’s beach very attractive and safe for laying their eggs. He now has a minimum of 7 nests and the number is growing.
Well we thinK these turtles couldn’t have chosen a better beach.
Izzy recognises how important this is and wholeheartedly accepts the huge responsibility to ensure their nesting ground is protected and monitored constantly. If many more come there is going to be no beach left for sunbeds, but I don’t think anyone will mind moving out of the way to protect these cute little babies as they grow in their eggs.
When the times comes for the eggs to hatch we must all help to ensure they are not crowded, scared or distracted from their essential journey to the sea.
We felt so humbled and privileged to witness such a wonderful event and and is something we never thought we would see. It is something we will never forget.
We are so happy to share this special moment with you all.
……..Wonder if we get an early night tonight !!!!
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