Measures to protect sea turtles on Turkish coasts have been successful, allowing thousands of babies to reach the sea. Very few, however, reach old age.
Thousands of rare turtles have reached the sea on Turkey’s coasts thanks to greater conservation efforts by Turkish authorities, according to Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu. “A total of 391,152 baby turtles hatched from these nests reached the sea,” he said, noting that there were more than 4,000 caretta caretta nests and 2,000 chelonia mydas nests along Turkish coasts last year.
Each caretta caretta nest had around 70 eggs, while each chelonia mydas nest possessed around 100 eggs, he said. “Nearly 80 percent of these eggs bring babies, but only 3 percent of these babies become mature. When these babies become sexually mature after 20-25 years, they return to the coast to lay eggs.” Ultimately, only about one in a thousand lives to reach 50 years, the minister said.
Eroglu said the largest breeding site for caretta carettas around the world was Masirah Island in Oman but that the Turkish and Greek coasts were also important breeding sites. “Among 21 important breeding sites for sea turtles, only 13 have been regularly monitored and protected. As a result of scientific works in 2015, 3,912 caretta caretta nests and 2,151 chelonia mydas nests were determined on the 143,007-kilometer coasts of Turkey. Caretta carettas left 271,840 eggs and chelonia mydas left 215,100 eggs in their nests. A total of 391,152 babies from these nests reached the sea,” said the minister.
Caretta caretta turtles return after a quarter century to lay eggs if possible. This year their breeding season is over. Just like every year, we will continue closely monitoring the coasts between April 1 and Sept. 30, the breeding season, in order to find new nests,” he said.
The minister also warned people against actions that could harm the sea turtles on the coasts. “It is known that the sea turtles have been living on the planet for nearly 115 million years. They are among rare living creatures that have succeeded in surviving for a long period. Sea turtles, which are a symbol of the [quest] to protect nature, have been in danger of extinction for the last 40-50 years because of environmental pollution, construction on the coasts and fishing activities. In order to end this danger, we, as the ministry, will continue protecting sea turtles.”