Tourist developments are hitting Turkey’s turtle beaches

Failure to restrict damaging activities has had an impact on turtle numbers.

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Loggerhead turtle hatchling
Loggerhead turtle hatchlings are at risk from light pollution on tourist beaches. © iStock

 

Turkey has been urged to improve the way it manages two tourist beaches for nesting sea turtles.

Fethiye and Patara Beaches are protected because of their breeding loggerhead turtles, but uncontrolled development and a failure to restrict damaging activities has precipitated a downward trend in numbers.

According to Liza Boura of the Mediterranean turtle group Medasset, at least 200 nests are laid by loggerheads on both beaches every year, making them two of the most important sites in Turkey.

“Fethiye has severely degraded beaches, there are more new buildings on or behind the beach every year, and halting the degradation is urgently needed,” she said.

“Patara is different,” Boura added. “It has near-pristine beaches, but a new development in the protected area behind the beach is a threat, and management action is needed before the problems increase.”

Medasset has relayed its concerns to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, a voluntary treaty to which Turkey is a signatory.

In turn, the convention has called for a ban on coastal construction at both sites, as well as other measures to reduce light pollution, prevent vehicle access to the beaches and raise awareness among visitors.

Boura warned that these measures are needed before the 2016 tourism season. “Turkey has demonstrated it can protect sea turtle beaches, as it has done in Dalyan and Akyatan, which are international examples of best practice. The other 18–20 green and loggerhead nesting sites merit the same attention.”

Find out more about Medasset’s conservation work

How do sea turtles find their way home? Find out the answer

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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