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Turtles In Mediterranean Coastal Turkey

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Hopefully, you should be able to view a very short video now of Özlem (this name means ‘longing’) the loggerhead turtle being released back into the wild. Just click on the play button above.

Last year we read in the Fethiye Times that Özlem was going to be released on Iztuzu Beach near Dalyan on the 3rd October.

Public transport being what it is in Turkey and the fact that we’d never been to Iztuzu Beach, we just decided to take off to go and see if we could watch her being put back into the wild.

We stumbled across a great way to get the to the turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre completely by accident because we hadn’t done any research about how to get there at all.

Sandpipers, Iztuzu Beach
Iztuzu Beach is a famous nesting area for turtles

We’ve been to Dalyan a few times so we knew if we got there, we wouldn’t be far away.

A stroll along the river bank and we found out there was a public boat that went to Iztuzu Beach. Great.

A lovely sail along the river for a couple of quid each. The beach is a protected area so the boat goes through a protected zone and the boats moor up along a jetty.

We went to one of the kiosks along the beach to ask where the rescue and rehabilitation centre is.

Ohh, lots of sucking in of breath and ‘You’re at the wrong end of the beach. It’s at the other end and it’s 5km.’

No problem for us because we like a walk so we set off, barefoot along the seashore, no idea where we were heading to.

Iztuzu Beach
Iztuzu Beach (aka Turtle Beach) is amazing. Compact sand, shallow sea, little crabs scuttling in and out of holes and tame sandpipers prodding about in the sand for food – maybe this is what all the beaches around here used to be like…

A turtle undergoing rehabilitation at DEKAMER

The rescue & rehabilitation centre – you’ve got to go there. We had no expectations when we went; we were just going to have a look.

It takes your breath away. It’s only a tiny, simple place. A small team of people from Pamukkale University working to help the turtles.

Their English is great and they’ll tell you all about the work they do, all about turtles and how the turtles end up there in the first place.

Özlem had been found with fishing line wrapped round her flipper (which can eventually sever the flipper).

Other turtles in there had completely severed flippers or scars in their shells from boat propellers.

Really sad but also hopeful.

When we went they were in the process of trying to register as a charity so if you make it there, give them a hand and drop a few kuruş in the box. They’ve got a big job on their hands.

Update: The turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre is now a charity so you can donate easily at the actual site.

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