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Belek beach map

From: Baran, University of Izmir

The distribution of nests at Belek in Turkey, show how turtles avoid areas of new hotel development. Unless parts of the bay are protected they could desert the beach altogether.

Saved but still not secure

The Greek island of Zakynthos is the most important sites for loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, with around 1,300 nests being laid each season. Over the past 20 years, hotel development at Laganas Bay has made it increasingly diffi cult for females to find suitable sites to nest. The resort has developed into a continuous strip of hotels catering for over 200,000 visitors a year. A two kilometre stretch of beach has become so compacted by traffic and tourists that it is no longer used by nesting turtles.

Thankfully, as tourism boomed, more restrictions were put on new development; beaches are now closed at night and new buildings are banned from certain areas. Studies of nest numbers by the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece illustra te how turtles avoid noisy, illuminated sections of the coastline. Today, the quietest beach in the bay, Sekania, which has been purchased by the World Wide Fund for Nature is home to more than 50 per cent of all nests in the area.Nests o n another beach in the bay, Daphne, fell dramatically after late night bars and a hotel were established. The beach is now closed to tourists and nest numbers have recovered.

There are concerns that overcrowding of nests at Sekania beach may be causing a reduction in the success rate of hatchlings, but,compared to many resorts, Laganas bay shows how careful planning can prevent the complete collapse of nesting beaches in areas heavily used by tourists.

digger in Belec 700 meteres of potential nesting beach at Belek in Turkey was destroyed to build a golf course for tourists.
(I Baran)
illegal building Illegal building on Daphne beach, Zakynthos, Greece.

Trouble spot

Turkey is now one of the top destinations for summer holidays, and has experienced a huge growth in hotel development. In the 1980's one beach Dalyan, where up to 300 turtle nests are recorded each year, was set aside as a reserve and dev elopment was stopped. Unfortunately, at least 13 other vital nesting beaches are in danger of being lost to tourism. The number of nests recorded at these sites has fallen by 40 per cent in the past four years. At Belek, where 200 nests a re found each season, half the length of the beach is lined with hotels. In 1996, 700 metres of prime nesting sites were destroyed when sand was removed to build a golf course. Conservationists reported that 20 per cent of all hatchlings on the beach perished due to light disturbance and other human activity.

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WSPA's campaign booklet - Turtle Alert! has been adapted for the WWW by EuroTurtle, which is a Web based project by MEDASSET International (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles), Exeter University (UK) and the Biology Department of King's College,Taunton, UK. EuroTurtle is Europe's first Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation Web Site for Science and Education.

Copyright © 1997, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).
These pages are the intellectual property of WSPA.
Permission to copy these materials must be obtained from WSPA.