Unsurprisingly, a large number of tourists are pulled into Dalyan by a desire to get a closer look at the Caretta Caretta that surround the coast. One of our favourite activities at Kano Otel was watching the river for signs of a little turtle head popping up by the reeds.
It was even more exciting for us when our Antik Tour Boat pulled up next to a school of fish and a friendly turtle came along to play: his whole shell emerging out of the water and then diving back down and disappearing into the muggy river.
The most famous turtles on the coast are the Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s of Iztuzu Beach, but you can still see many signs of the animals throughout the day in Dalyan’s river.
Turkey is not a country that has always been for the conservation and protection of these prehistoric animals, but the Turtle Hospital, just up from Iztuzu Beach, does its best to teach visiting tourists about the animals and to rescue those turtles who have have been harmed in the nearby ocean, or those late hatchlings who won’t make it to the sea in the heat of the day.
The fishermen of Dalyan are divided in their devotion to the turtles of their land. Although some see the tourist industry that comes to observe the turtles as a lucrative thing, some see the turtles as nuisances getting caught in nets and the battle for the turtles welfare remains ongoing and in need of a lot of support.
A lot of the conservation on Iztuzu Beach is accredited to June Haimoff, a British woman who fell in love with the beach in July 1975. She later returned in 1984, a divorcee who had lost her beloved boat the BouBoulina. On her return, June Hamioff, known as Kaptan June to the locals, settled into the community at Iztuzu Beach and became amazed by these magnificent turtles after watching a female lay her eggs one spring night.
Her story Kaptan June and The Dalyan Turtles details her experiences with this Turkish coastline and her ongoing passion for the place and its wildlife, especially Caretta Caretta.
It is not the most skillfully written memoir, but Kaptan June details meeting the Turkish Prime Minister of the time and putting a stop to a damaging tourist industry for her simple passion of nature. It’s a story you can really picture whilst staying in Dalyan and a great accompaniment to a worthy cause, The Kaptan June Sea Turtle Foundation.