Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Messing about on the river

The river at Dalyan meanders through the Lycean countryside before reaching its final destination, the Mediterranean Sea. As it nears the end of its journey the river widens into a fresh water lagoon. The water is filled with jumping fish, and edged with tall reeds and pampas grasses which flicker and sway to the movements and sounds of countless birds - storks, hawks and small songbirds - an idyllic nature reserve. 
As our 'Dokmusse' fishermen's boat, navigates the maze of reeds we become aware that more ancestors from 2400 years ago are once again looking down on us
Rock Tombs from the Carian realm
but its onwards towards the sea for us
What a surprise it was to discover ourselves docking at a large sand spit separating the river from the sea.  We had assumed that the river would flow into an estuary and then out to the Mediterranean but suddenly we found ourselves standing on Iztuzu Beach, an area of Special Environmental Protection.
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Iztuzu Beach is one of the main breeding grounds for the loggerhead sea turtles. The level beach enables the huge turtles to haul themselves up during April and May to dig their holes and lay 50 - 150 eggs roughly the size of ping pong balls, then leave them to incubate for about 60 days.
The beach has been saved from development by June Haimoff, an Englishwomen. From the mid 1970s she lived in a hut on the beach for several years in her quest to protect the area for the turtles. Amongst her supporters were English Conservationist, David Bellamy, and Prince Phillip. 
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The baby turtles have a natal homing instinct to the beach where they hatch. The eggs are all asexual, the sex of each turtle being determined by temperature: high temperatures make female turtles and lower temperatures make male turtles.
When the hatchling turtles emerge they are disorientated if they see a light source other than the sea. To have lights from any developments such as hotels would be disastrous for them.
Turtles are on the endangered list, and it is no wonder when you consider that their sexual maturity takes 25 - 30 years and that only 3 - 5% of them survive for that length of time.  
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A mature loggerhead turtle
Time to catch the Dokmusse
and head off for lunch

50 comments:

  1. Dear Rosemary,
    What an enchanting post. I have been thinking about you.! What a most beautiful place that you went to in Turkey. You are really getting to know the country. You have whetted my appetite!.. I would love to see all those ancient dwellings,and tombs and take a trip on the boat.
    Dalyan looks a perfect place.
    I did not know that turtles go by the temperatures - how amazing . I must read up more about them.
    There is a sanctuary in St. Lucia bay in south Africa, where they are protected.
    Your photos are beautiful.
    I so enjoyed this post.
    Happy travels
    Val x

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    1. Dear Val - Thank you for your kind comment, delighted that you enjoyed seeing this river trip to the sea which was a lovely relaxed way to travel and in such a tranquil setting.
      I enjoyed learning all about the turtles, but what a difficult life they have to endure. There are so many creatures waiting for them, both on land and in the sea, when the baby turtles begin their first journey.

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  2. Well that looks absolutely stunning, Rosemary. What a fabulous trip - the photographs are just wonderful. I think I may have missed a couple of your earlier posts, so I'm off to take a look.

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    1. Thank you Mike - it was such a picturesque place that I cannot really take full credit for the photos, I don't think the camera could go wrong with such blue skies, lovely water, and sunshine, but I appreciate your kind comment.

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  3. Such a beautiful place to visit, and wonderful work that is being done with the turtles, they are amazing animals aren't they. The (I assume) tombs carved into the rocks are amazing aren't they. xx

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    1. Dear Amy I have now added a note that they are rock tombs in case anyone missed the previous post - thank you for that. It really was an idyllic spot which we all enjoyed - some even went swimming in the sea.

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    1. Thank you Janice - lunch was good too.

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  5. Another wonderful day in Turkey, Rosemary. The rock tombs look fantastic from the water, and the sand spit an interesting location for the turtles. They come up from the sea to a beach in Queensland too, although I have never seen it. I am enjoying your travels very much, thank you!

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    1. Turkey keeps turning up trumps for us Patricia - we thought that it would be difficult to match last years trip, but once again we have returned home feeling delighted with all that we saw.

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  6. That all looks very good, sunny weather, blue skies and interesting things to see.

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    1. Summed up perfectly - to have hot sunny weather in November is definitely a bonus.

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  7. Oh! the rock tombs!
    What an interesting trip and lovely weather too.

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    1. We went to Turkey last year too - the weather is just right for we British in November. The rock tombs were very special to see.

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  8. A great trip, beautiful pictures and a lovely story. I enjoyed the boattrip with you.

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    1. I am pleased that you came along for the ride Janneke, and that you enjoyed the trip

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  9. Great post, and beautiful series of photos.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment Linda

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  10. Dear Rosemary, I love this post. So many beautiful photographs. Those clear and tranquil waters look so inviting. Supposedly the sex of the alligator is also determined by temperature. I just can't believe it. It goes against what we know about reproduction. But I will go along with the experts, they should know. .

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    1. Dear Gina - the trip down the river was a delightful way to leisurely spend a few hours, very peaceful and very beautiful.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, What a blend of scenery, natural history, and ancient tombs. It seems that modern civilization intrudes as little as possible. Marshy areas always fascinate me; they seem to have the most extraordinary wildlife. The east coast of the U.S. also has large salt marshes around the Carolinas; I especially now regret never having made a special visit, as I understand that large sections of them are falling to development.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - it is fortunate that this wildlife lagoon and the beach have been saved for the birds and animals, but I think that it was only achieved with a lot of tenacity on the part of many people.

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  12. That looks such an idyllic location, what a lovely place to go. I was lucky enough to witness a turtle laying her eggs once. Just her and me on an isolated beach early in the morning. I've had the greatest respect for them ever since.

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    1. What a special privilege to have witnessed Jessica - a memory to last a lifetime.

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  13. The wildlife lagoon was beautiful but the split and seeing the turtles must have made it even more special. The tour company have taken you to some wonderful places again. Sarah x

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    1. Some good experiences from these Turkish trips Sarah - sadly we didn't actually see the turtles, they had all done their thing and gone on their way a few weeks ago.

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  14. Hello Rosemary
    Thank you for taking me along your riverboat cruise and for the image of the loggerhead turtles. They are so vulnerable when they hatch. I have seen turtles hatch at Indian Rocks Beach and watch the babies waddle from the next to the water. As you say their survival rate is dismal.

    Helen xx

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    1. I would love to see the little ones making their way down to the sea, you were very fortunate. They are extremely cute but also, as you mention, extremely vulnerable.

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  15. A wonderful post Rosemary, than you for sharing it with us. It was a delightful insight into a Turkey that I have never read or heard about and it's very encouraging to know there are safe places for these turtles to breed in that part of the world. The boats look unusual, as if they may have a a shallow draft to cope with the waters around the sand spit.

    Ms Soup

    Ms Soup

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    1. Thank you - you are right the boats are very shallow at the back so that you can easily alight at the destination (as long as you can keep your balance)

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  16. Fabulous story and pics Rosemary. We have special beach areas here on the North Carolina coast where the turtles lay their eggs - many people work tirelessly during the nesting season to make sure those amazing little babies hatch and get down to the ocean! Nature often makes propagation of a species such hard work - these tiny creatures being one of the special ones we need to assist.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Mary

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    1. The turtles have a hard struggle to survive. They are probably at their safest when they hatch these days as so many nesting sites are now protected and guarded to assist them on their journey. However, their biggest risks are during the 25 - 30 years before maturity when they are feeding and growing in the sea, predators are all around them.

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  17. This was a lovely and beautiful riverboat trip, really nice and it looks so warm and sunny! We have had just 1 hour of sun this month, it´s so dull and dark...
    Have a happy week!
    Warmly,
    Titti

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    1. I must admit, Titti, that it is very pleasant to have very warm sunshine from morning till dusk during the month of November in Turkey. However, today we actually have lovely blue skies and sunshine here too, and I do hope that it is shinning on you in Öland as well.

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  18. That trip sounds like a real surprise for you. The turtles are graceful for one quite large.
    Those tombs amuse me in a nice way :)

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    1. You are right Margaret - we had not expected the river to come to such an abrupt end at a sand bank. Rivers here tend to finish in an estuary when they reach the sea.

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  19. I always feel I'm travelling along with you on your trips whether in a boat or hot air balloon! It's a privilege to be part of a group to visit ancient sites and unspoilt places where wildlife is being protected. I learn a lot from wildlife television programmes and I'm full of admiration for the dedication of the photographers. It must be very special to go to conservation areas such as the beach in your post and find out about the work being done there first hand. The rock tombs are an amazing sight too.

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    1. It was good to have you travelling with me Linda - the quality of the wildlife photographers today just seems to get better and better. They reveal wonderful animal insights to us too.

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  20. Hello, Rosemary,

    I know it's in the wrong location, but when I saw your second photograph, I thought of the baby Moses. Maybe you know that St. Petersburg, Florida is a nesting place for turtles. When it's hatching season, the cities of Pass-A-Grille and St. Pete Beach turn off the street lights that border the beaches.

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    1. Hello Mark - the location is wrong, but the trip down the river certainly did have a biblical feel to it, and was unlike any other boat trip that I have ever made.
      I did know about the turtles in Florida as we visited a Marine Sanctuary where we saw turtles and manatees, but I can no longer remember the name of the place.

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  21. What a fascinating boat trip, Rosemary. As always your photos are gorgeous and I was particularly interested in the details about the turtles and the struggle to protect their breeding ground. Thank goodness it was successful.

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    1. I was impressed by the tenacity of June Haimoff - it could not have been easy for her living in a hut on the beach for years and fighting off the developers. The area is not just a nesting haven for turtles, but also a wonderful place for wildlife generally - how different it would be today if hotels, cafes, and shops had been built.

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  22. Dear Rosemary - What a nice cruise from river to the sea! I enjoyed the views from the boat and was most interested in the sea turtles. I’ve never seen them in person, but Yakushima Island is the largest nesting site for endangered loggerhead sea turtles in North Pacific. The beach where they came was mostly privately owned and had no restrictions for development. Protection of the sea turtles started by those who were concerned, mainly younger residents, and launched ecological study about them. Thanks to the volunteer organization, the number fo turtles landing on the beach to lay eggs increased a lot but the loggerheads ecology is still under threat. Such protection movement is often initiated by the concerned local people. I’m happy for that.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - like you, many others have commented on the fact that turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of their country where they are protected, it is not so in Britain, sadly they do not nest on our beaches. However, even though we are conscious of protecting them, they still seem to be declining. It must be because it takes turtles such a long time to reach maturity. Most animals can reproduce themselves within in a very short time, not so the turtles.

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  23. I am amazed at how labor intensive it would have been to build those tombs! I am really enjoying your pictures. Thank goodness there are folks that would go the extra mile to protect such a beautiful turtle.

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    1. The tombs were carved out of the cliff around 400 BC - it is incredible to imagine just how they achieved them

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  24. Dear Rosemary,
    you show so many unexpected photos - a real treat, thank you! As to the turtles: so good that they are protected now.
    Impressive: the rock tombs.

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    1. Dear Britta - Thank you very much, I do hope that I can continue to show you some unexpected photo treats♡

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