Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) Turtles

See Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) Turtles while cruising with captain Ergun

Few sights are as majestic as encountering a magnificent Caretta Caretta sea turtle swimming in the turquoise waters of the Turkish Mediterranean when snorkelling on a boat cruise with us. The coastal region where we travel is located exactly in the middle of two of the most important Turkish nesting grounds for the endangered marine species: Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan (about 170 km from Kas) and Cirali Beach in Antalya (about 100 km from Kas).

While there is of course no 100% guarantee that you will see these turtles on a boat cruise, it is good to know that one’s chances of doing so increase dramatically during their nesting season from May to July. That means late spring and summer are the perfect time for this once in a lifetime experience!

 

What to look for:

With years of experience sailing and diving in these waters, your captain is a turtle spotter par excellence! He will be sure to point them out to you while cruising. Should you be snorkelling, and happen to see something, here is a description of what to expect:

 

  • The loggerhead turtle is one of the largest cheloniid turtles. It got its nickname because it has a particularly large head and very strong jaws.
  • The carapace (shell) of a loggerhead turtle is a reddish brown and the plastron (underbelly) is pale yellow. The skin ranges from yellow to brown in colour. No external differences in gender are seen until the turtle becomes an adult, the most obvious difference being the adult males have thicker tails and shorter plastrons than the females.
  • The average loggerhead measures around 90 cm (35 in) long when fully grown, though in some instances they can grow even larger. Their heavy shells can reach a diameter of as much as one meter!
  • The adult loggerhead sea turtle weighs approximately 135 kg (298 lb), with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 450 kg (1,000 lb).
  • Interestingly enough, it also carries more encrusting organisms such as barnacles on its shell than other marine turtle species.
  • Baby turtles tend to hatch and make for the sea waters from mid-July onwards until end September. They are obviously far more difficult to spot, but who knows, you might get lucky!

 

It is a sad fact that these amazing creatures are currently on the on the IUCN Red list of endangered animals. In Turkey the main reason for this is habitat destruction of traditional nesting areas caused by the development of beach hotel complexes. Luckily, there is a strong conservation movement to protect them. When you have the privilege of encountering a sea turtle, please be respectful of this fact!

 

Seeing these amazing animals in the wild is just another of the many reasons to travel with us. It is an unforgettable experience.

 

Where to see baby turtles near Kas

From Kas, your best chance to encounter Caretta Caretta turtle hatchlings is to take a journey to Olympos/Cirali. Turtles have been nesting on the Cirali Beach between Olympos and Cirali for millions of years between the months of May and September. This beautiful beach, located in the Olympos National Park, is one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Turkey and is a protected nature reserve.

We will be happy to assist you in arranging transport and accommodation, should you wish to visit and experience the amazing sight of seeing newly hatched babies make their ways into the sea.

Visitors can see baby turtles if they visit the beach early in the morning during hatching season (from July to September).

Members of the Ulupinar Nature Conservation, Development and Management Cooperation will be on the beach, checking the white cages over the nests (placed there to protect them).

These people can help you observe baby turtles leaving their nests.

In order to protect the sea turtles, visitors to Cirali should stay mindful of these rules:

  • Don’t touch the baby sea turtles. It is very important that the turtles are able to travel on their own all the way to the sea in order to find the beach again.
  • Please do not walk or drive on the beach late at night during nesting and hatching season. People and bright lights frighten the turtles or cause them to be disoriented. For this reason, one should also not light fires on the beach.

 

Breeding Facts

Females nest an average of 3 to 5 times per season. Between 40 and 190 eggs are laid per clutch.

Eggs are always laid at night.

The mother turtle comes ashore to dig half a metre deep holes, into which the eggs are deposited. The eggs remain in the holes for approximately 50 days and are warmed by the sun. Then the young turtles hatch and make their way back to the sea. In Cirali, this pilgrimage usually starts some time in July.

On this short journey, many do not make it, as they are hunted by birds. Once in the water, they can also be eaten by other marine animals and fish and few make it to adulthood.

For parents who want to teach their children a responsible approach to nature, a stay in the Olympos National Park is ideal.

 

 

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