Injured sea turtles are being meticulously treated at the Sea Turtles Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (DEKAMER) in the western province of Muğla.
Located near İztuzu beach in Ortaca district, one of the most important Caretta caretta nesting areas in the Mediterranean, DEKAMER undertakes the treatment of turtles found in various parts of Turkey. In the center where the hospital environment is provided, turtles are treated with great care.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, DEKAMER President and Project Coordinator Professor Yakup Kasa said that injured sea turtles come to the center as they are caught in fishnets, fishing lines, speedboats and propellers etc.
Kasa stated that two veterinarians working in the center and their assistants, who are aquaculture engineers and biologists, know sea turtles closely, adding that they are equipped for all kinds of operations.
Explaining that the injured turtles that come to the center are diagnosed first, Kasa said, “The injured turtles are analyzed for blood, their x-rays are taken, if necessary, they are treated in intensive care units and after they regain their health, they are rehabilitated and left to their natural environment. Just as people’s linings are changed and their meal comes to their room in the hospitals, here the water of sea turtles is changed every day and they are fed.”
Dressing and serum procedures are also carried out in the center and there are teams responsible for feeding the turtles, the treatment process and weight monitoring, Kasa said, adding that they provide services like a hospital, and that the turtles are taken to the area open to visitors after the treatment process is completed and their rehabilitation process starts.
207 turtles treated in 12 years
Stating that some turtles may even need to be amputated because of their injury, Kasa said that although sea turtles are animals that can survive with three arms after treatment, each of them is not seen as lucky.
He said that 417 turtles were brought to the center in the last 12 years and that 207 of them were reunited with the sea in a healthy way, Kasa said, “About 160 sea turtles could not be saved despite treatment. Although we do our best, 30 to 35 percent of the animals that come to the center could not be saved because of the grave injuries they endured.”
Kasa stated that from time to time they reach the injured sea turtles as a result of a notice, and in this case, they offer the informant the opportunity to name the turtle with a small gift.
He said that they can give any name they wish unless it was previously given to another turtle. “It can be Turkish or foreign names. Sometimes interesting names are preferred. For example, one of them is ‘Hulk’. But apart from that, there are also those who prefer names like Osman and Mustafa that we are used to from daily life,” he said.
Kasa stated that Hulk, named after the cartoon character “green giant,” is a green sea turtle and was brought to the center with a wound on her arm as she was entangled in the line two months ago.
“Hulk, the green sea turtle, is actually herbivorous. Every line thrown into the sea for fishing can entangle the arms of sea turtles. The more they turn their arms to get rid of the line, the more it winds round, leading to a possibility of serious cuts. Hulk is also a sea turtle injured in this way. Dressing and necessary treatment was performed every day for two months and antibiotics were given,” he said.
Rehabilitated turtles left to sea
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan left three healthy sea turtles to the sea in Antalya’s Kaş district with Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum on Aug. 19.
Erdoğan, who came to the Patara Beach with the invitation of Kurum to attend the Patara Sea Turtles Conservation and Monitoring Program, also watched a video featuring the sea turtles living in the Mediterranean coasts of Turkey.
Erdoğan, who named one of the three sea turtles “Belkıs,” attended the event organized to leave Belkıs and the other two, named Patara and Lycia, to the sea. Satellite tracking devices were attached to the sea turtles. Erdoğan carried one of the turtles in her lap and left it to its natural habitat.
She said that the Caretta carettas are one of the most precious inhabitants of the seas, adding, “They are the oldest witness of the world, but sadly they are in danger of extinction. We have to keep them alive because they have an indispensable role for the coastal and marine ecosystem.”
She stated that with the devices installed will help the scientists will follow the adventure of the turtles and track the threats they encounter. “I will also be a follower, thanks to the device,” she added.
Kurum said that the number of nesting areas, which was 1,500 in the 1990s, has increased to 8,000. In this sense, our work is very important. We thoroughly monitor our turtles, which we send to the sea through DEKAMER.”