Turtles at Risk!

The beach at Anamur is one of a dozen nesting sites of the loggerhead turtle (Turkish: deniz kaplumbağası) – a large, flat-headed turtle that spends most of its life in the water – along Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

Between May and September, females come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Using their back flippers, they scoop out a nest about 40cm deep, lay between 70 and 120 soft-shelled white eggs the size of ping-pong balls, then cover them over. If disturbed the turtles may abandon the nests and return to the sea.

The eggs incubate in the sand for around 60 days and the temperature at which they do determines the gender of the hatchlings: below 30°C and all the young will be male; above 30°C and they will be female. At a steady 30°C a mix is assured.

As soon as they're born (at night, when it's cool and fewer predators are about), the young turtles make their way towards the sea, drawn by the reflected light. If hotels and restaurants are built too close to the beach (as is often the case in the western Mediterranean), their lights can confuse the youngsters, leading them to move up the beach towards danger – in Anamur's case, the D400 highway. Plenty of young can be seen in the waterway next to Marmure Castle, a short waddle from the road.

Loggerhead turtles also nest on the beaches at Demirtaş and Gazipaşa, both southeast of Alanya, and in the Göksu Delta. In the western Mediterranean, important nesting grounds are at Dalyan, Fethiye, Patara, Demre (Kale), Kumluca and Tekirova (both northeast of Demre), and Belek (east of Antalya).