Caretta carettas return to Antalya shores as conservation efforts pay off

The endangered “Caretta caretta” and “Chelonia mydas” sea turtles have returned to the Çıralı shore of Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya Province for nesting season in record numbers after years of conservation efforts succeeded in securing the beaches. 

Tourists watch as the volunteers uncover the caretta caretta nest on Çıralı beach.

Duvar English

The nesting season for the "Caretta caretta" and "Chelonia mydas" sea turtles on the endangered species red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), continues on Turkey's Mediterranean coasts. 

At the Antalya Province’s Çıralı district, one of Turkey's 22 nesting sites and annually listed among Europe's top ten beaches, a busy nesting season occurred this year with sea turtles returning ashore quickly.

Çıralı set a 30-year record for the number of nests thanks to conservation and monitoring efforts that began voluntarily in 1994 and became cooperative-led in 2000, according to reporting by the Demirören News Agency (DHA).  

This year, Çıralı reached 153 nests, surpassing the previous record of 151 nests set in 2018. The joy was twofold, breaking the record and witnessing the return of turtles that volunteers helped reach the sea 30 years ago to lay their own eggs. 

The number of nests is expected to increase in the next three weeks of the egg-laying season.

At around 5:30 AM on Çıralı beach, nest numbered seven was the first to be opened. Numerous local and international tourists, along with volunteers from the S.S. Ulupınar Environmental Protection and Development Cooperative, attended the nest opening. Shortly afterward, volunteers patrolling the beach identified and secured the 153rd nest, naming it “Kemer Çıralı.” 

They measured the distance from the nest to the sea and the end of the beach, and marked and recorded the location using GPS.

Mustafa Ilgaz has volunteered nights at the Çıralı beach securing Caretta Ceratta nests for the last 28 years. He said, "The hatchlings from my early days now return as mothers to visit us, actually coming here to lay eggs.”

The volunteer warned locals and beachgoers about the steps they could personally take to help the conservation efforts. “I advise them not to come to the beach between 9 PM and 6 AM. I ask them not to disturb the nests. If they follow the rules, they will give us the greatest support.”

Habib Altınkaya, President of the S.S. Ulupınar Environmental Protection and Development Cooperative, conducts the conservation and monitoring of sea turtles on behalf of Nature Conservation and National Parks.  

He said, “We have been very excited for the past few days, anticipating the 30-year record. Today, we broke that record with 153 nests. We have seen more clearly today that we can achieve great things with small touches to nature. There is a lot of effort here. We are at a historic moment. We have been conducting conservation and monitoring for 30 years in Çıralı. Our greatest expectation and excitement now is to see how many nests we will have by the end of the year.”