Facing extinction, loggerhead turtles, also known as caretta carettas, are the most precious living beings in the Mediterranean. Named for their broad, strong heads, these turtles are threatened as their nests and where they lay their eggs are now mostly tourist-filled beaches.
The southern province of Muğla's İztuzu Beach is one of the frequently preferred loggerhead turtle nesting sites in the world. Since they are facing extinction, the local government and volunteers take extra precautions when the turtles visit the beach to lay their eggs. Loggerheads have begun to frequent the beach to lay their eggs inside holes they dig 50 centimeters under the ground. After the turtles lay their eggs, the baby loggerheads hatch and emerge from the sand 50 days later and find their way to the sea with a little help from volunteers. Currently, the beach is quite busy as volunteers from the Muğla-based Sea Turtles Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER) watch over the site to ensure the loggerheads are not disturbed while laying their eggs and returning to sea. The volunteers also protect the eggs and document the egg-laying process 24 hours a day in shifts.
Academic Doğan Sözbilen of Pamukkale University said İztuzu Beach is one of the first places that loggerhead turtles come to lay their eggs. "The first nest was documented in the first week of May and currently, there are five more nests where the loggerheads have laid their eggs," he added.
Ekin Büyükhaktan is a student of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) and came to İztuzu Beach to help loggerheads. She said they wake up at five in the morning to check if the loggerheads need any help.
"This is the first time that I came to İztuzu Beach and getting to know the loggerheads has been my dream. It is a very special bond. It is magical to see them laying their eggs, getting out of the sand and finding their way to the sea."