I want to write you about an old trip. Because I think it was a very unique and useful wise experience. I usually do cultural trips. I like to see specific things about the countries. But for one of my summer, I decided to do something different. I thought it would be great if I could join an educational program as vacation and social activity at the same time. My mother is working at a university and she told me that they have a social project about Caretta Carettas (a species of sea turtles). Since the caretta carettas were under a huge threat to become extinct, the Biology department of the university had organized a camp called DEKAMER in Iztuzu Beach (Dalyan).
Dalyan is a well-known place with its natural beauties. Besides that, it has beaches where these turtles live and breed. Taking care of wounded turtles and making easy to breed for them was the main purpose of the builded camp, like a hospital or rehabilitation center. Just after hearing about it, I thought that camp would worth to see. So me and my boyfriend decided to have an interesting experience and we went to Dalyan for a few days.
There were a lot of students and academicians living in the camp. They told us that the students come here and stay for one or two months. At the end of the process, volunteers who participate that program are getting a certificate (to me it is a perfect piece for a youngster’s CV) and leave with a priceless memories. Then new volunteers come. We were just visitors. Unfortunately, camping for two months is too hard for me. But we were so enthusiastic to learn their work. Also admired them.
We stayed at their tents and attended to their duty groups during our stay. There were many groups for different jobs. Our first group was about giving information to tourists. I admit that “to do” is a great thing, but without telling them to public an important part would be missing: Increasing the awareness of people about that environmental problem. When we were at the camp, there weren’t any volunteers from foreign countries. Fortunately, some students could talk English good enough to deal with foreign tourists. But after reading articles about DEKAMER, I learnt that the camp might allow to have attendances from other countries. I’m sure that the camp would be more interesting with such an international team. My english wasn’t that good enough in those days. So I just gave information to Turkish people. Of course before we start, we take the proper information from the experienced team. They talked about these turtles’ general life and stories of the wounded ones.
Caretta carettas can live 100-120 years. It’s a long time but there are too many dangers until they become an adult. When the baby ones try to reach the sea, mostly some craps, coyotes, badgers, foxes and birds eat them. Even if there isn’t any alive danger, they can be lost sometimes just because of they mistakenly follow a light as a guide. In fact the only light that should serve as guide for them to find their way is the moonlight. So, another strong light can be a fatal danger for them. According to the scientific researches, only one baby can reach the 50th age among a thousand eggs. After all, If they can grow up without any problems, they face the biggest danger: Humans. These turtles, that we saw in the camp, were there because of the harms given by humans. Propellers of their boats and fishhooks hurt them. Fishers attack them recklessly because they have interest in common; to be feed with fishes.
All turtles in the camp had names and most of the names were really weird. There were some Turkish and some foreign names. We asked “Who is giving these names?” and someone from the team answered as “It’s been asked to the person who find the turtle.”
When I saw one of the wounded ones, I felt my heart was broken. His name was Akut-3 (AKUT is a big rescue team in my country and they have found him). A fishing boat’s propeller just teared to pieces his chin. He was looking awful and he couldn’t eat anything without the help of volunteers. But it was 3 years ago. When I was searching the camp for writing this article, I saw a web page about a 3D prosthesis surgery. They have given a chin to him last year. It created a big smile on my face when I read it. So I admired again to what are they doing.
Our second group was responsible for the nests and their work time was night. Their job was checking the nests and reporting the quality and number of eggs. There were 100-150 eggs in a single nest. The hatching time of the babies is for about two months. If a baby gets out from the egg in the night, that means it was lucky. Sunshine causes them to dry and die before they reach to the sea. One of the groups was responsible for unlucky ones. They collect and put the baby Caretta carettas in a bucket of water. Then they carry the bucket to the camp area. After a waiting, the night group takes the bucket and release the baby turtles to sea. When we were in the night group, they gave this mission to us. It was amazing to watch dozens of clumsy baby turtles trying to walk to sea in the moonlight.
One of the most beautiful things about the beach is that it is forbidden to be in there before 8.00 am and after 10.00 pm. It’s been closed because of the turtle’s safety. That was good for the staffs’ safety, too. It means the whole beach becomes ours through the night. We loved swimming in the seasparkle after our missions were finished. So, we could spend lovely times besides taking care of turtles.
In the coming years, I want to stay longer. When I could overcome my entomophobia… But I know there are a lot of activities, with which you can gain special experiences like this. I believe, these activities make a person’s lifetime more worthy. Remember, when you do something in favor of someone else, some tips of your kind act would turn to you at the same time.
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