CARETTA CARETTA

The cute sea turtles, animals on the list of “animals in danger of exhaustion”, come to the Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan to lay their eggs. Caretta carettas are considered “luxury food” in France, Italy and Far East countries and over-hunting has almost wiped off their species. With the effort of the Dalyan people, the beach of Iztuzu is now under protection. The construction of the German-Turkish hotel, started to be built in 1980, was stopped with the struggle of the Dalyan society, foreign inhabitants and the Association of the Preservation of the Natural Life. The final result of this great struggle was the hotel’s complete tearing-down. The length of the caretta carettas varies between 115 cm and 150 cm and they are usually 70-90 kg, their shells are brown and bellies orange. Caretta carettas, which feed on moss generally, live in colonies. Their life span is thought to be about 70 years.

Caretta carettas, which lay eggs normally once in 2-3 years, bury their eggs in one of the holes that they dig using their back feet. A caretta digs 80-100 holes but buries all her eggs in one (it is either to hide the eggs and the hole in which the eggs are in or in order to hide the eggs in the best conditions, to check the moisture may be a reasonable explanation for digging all those holes). The process of laying eggs takes hours and the mother turtle cries since she suffers of pain. In Iztuzu Beach the nesting period is 55-60 days between May and July. The male turtles hatch about 28.5 C, females about 32 C at the beginning of July and this continues until September. There are many natural enemies of the eggs and fox is one of the most dangerous ones. Foxes can find the eggs by sniffing and destroy them. The turtles come out of the eggs and go towards the light reflecting on the water where they will start their life. However, many die of thirst because they lose their way and cannot make it to the sea. Many others that make it to the water end up being food to crabs, fish and birds. The experts say 1-2 turtles are enough for the survival of the species. If there is another light in the area that might mislead them, the turtles follow the false light that will cost their lives. For this reason, it is prohibited to enter the Iztuzu Beach from sunset till dawn.