The coasts of Adana, Mersin and Hatay, three provinces on Turkey’s Eastern Mediterranean coast, host their reptile visitors along with tourists nowadays. Green sea turtles and loggerhead sea turtles better, known as Caretta caretta, call the coasts home in the summer, a time for incubation.
Their primary destination is Akyatan, a wildlife preservation zone and the biggest lagoon of fertile wetlands in Çukurova. The lagoon, an ecosystem sprawling across nearly 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres), is among the largest rookeries for green turtles in the region.
As the temperatures rise, turtles emerge at night on the beach stretching for about 22 kilometers (13 miles). Digging their nests, they lay their eggs before heading back to sea. All of their movements are tracked by the staff of the local branch of the Wildlife Protection and National Parks Directorate and volunteers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has helped more than 220,000 baby turtles reach the sea after their birth in about two decades. They carefully approach every turtle emerging from their nests, making the maximum effort not to disturb them as they measure their length and check their wellbeing. During the day, wildlife preservation personnel tag every nest dug in the sand and surround them with barriers against other wild animals which may destroy the nests or eggs.
Turgut Çangır, head of the local wildlife preservation authority, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday that the turtles’ nesting grounds cover a large area from Hatay to the Anamur district of Mersin. He said they cooperated with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well as expert biologists from universities to ensure the welfare of the turtles and to study them for future preservation efforts.