The Sea Turtle Research Team (STRT) was established in April, 1999 by the organisation of Ali Fuat Canbolat, Ph.D from Hacettepe University, Department of Biology and it has carried out researches for the conservation of sea turtles in Dalyan, Patara and Belek provinces since that date. Besides the scientific researches, STRT also executes educational activities in project sites during May-September in order to provide local and foreign tourists information about the sea turtles and the conservation of natural environment
Projects Executed by The Sea Turtle Research Team
Activities in 1999
The Sea Turtle Research Team (STRT) started its first project entitled "Survey on the Sea Turtle Populations in Köyceğiz-Dalyan and Patara, Specially Protected Areas" carried out by Ali Fuat Canbolat, Ph.D and sponsored by Turkish Ministry of Environment, the Authority for Protecting Special Areas in May-November, 1999. Members of STRT who have participated in this project are given below. You may find detailed information about the research sites (Dalyan and Patara provinces) in the "projects" page.
The Sea Turtle Research Team (STRT) has started studying in Belek province with the project entitled "Conservation of Sea Turtles in Belek-BEDEKA 2000" in May, 1999 with Ali Fuat Canbolat, Ph.D as the scientific counsellor, Mert Temimhan (Environmental Coordinator of BETUYAB) as the project coordinator under the sponsoring of Belek Tourism Investors Association (BETUYAB). Members of STRT who have participated in this project in 1999 are given below. You may find detailed information about the research site (Belek province) in the "projects" page.
Activities in 2000
Dalyan project has been carried out without the financial support of any association or institutions, but only with the personal financial support of Ali Fuat Canbolat, Ph.D between May-September, 2000. Members of STRT who have participated in this project are given below.
Dalyan Project, Team of 1999
Belek project has found the opportunity of a more extensive work in 2000 with the sponsoring of Turkish Ministry of Environment, the Authority for Protecting Special Areas, Earthwatch Institute and Turkish Prime Ministry, General Directorate of Environment besides Belek Tourism Investors Association (BETUYAB).
Comments of Sea Turtle Research Team
BEDEKA 2000 (Project for the Conservation of Sea Turtles in Belek) has taken its place in my mind as the most comprehensive and the most tiring project I have ever participated in. To work with a team reaching about 50 people at times when volunteers of Earthwatch Institute and GSM (Youth Services Center) were added to 25 members of Hacettepe University Sea Turtle Reserach Team (STRT) was quite fun although it was often tiring and sometimes wearing out. 50 people exerting for the same ambition indeed shared the stress while sharing the tiredness and self sacrifice. Thus, this was a natural situation that should be accustomed to in a tiring project for 3,5 months. Because, further than all, is to feel the pleasure of overcoming all these problems and helping in the benefit of nature. I hope, and I do believe, that everyone has left full of these thoughts and dreaming of the next summer. I believe there is much left to us from the bitter and sweet memories and beyond, from the sea turtles that we had sweated for the sake of; an ambition, respect to the nature surrounding us and numerous doctrine concerning life such as being a human in a colorful and crowded group of people from different countries and all respecting each other.
I am looking forward to next summer and hope to see you all as well as new faces.
Opportunity of recognising nature and life on nature pieces where it is possible to see the most beautiful climate conditions of Mediterranean flora and fauna combining the aquatic ecosystems and sand vegetation, finds its meaning with the Caretta Project organised to prevent the decline in the nature and to conserve the animals under the threat of becoming extinct.
4 years do not pass by with just lessons caught in the time between "good morning and good evening...". You should build an ecological philosophy. You should feel the happiness and pleasure of being a part of the project when you look back. Besides, there is friendship. Caretta Project is an address where you can meet the warmest and sweetest people helping you to give your life new aspects. You feel the happiness and nature at this address. It is a privilege to be a part of this address.
Everything started when I saw the notification "Students who want to participate in the Caretta caretta Conservation Project in Belek...". When I came back home after about 3,5 months when the project was finished, I realised that I had gained much more than I though at the project. Who could think that it would be a Caretta caretta to teach me the pride of participating in a project, the success of a team work, the pleasure of fulfilling the responsibilities given, the happiness of meeting new friends, the joy of suffering the hardest conditions together, the secret of learning my limits of endurance and to share the happiness of an animal's struggle to survive?
Furthermore, thank YOU Ali Fuat Canbolat for creating such a colourful group, for making everything great and for everything else.
For me, Belek project is a project where I went planning to do something related to my department but came back with fun, animal love and a life moto in my luggage. When I first walked 11km in Aksu, I fainted. But when it was the end of the camp life, we were nearly running that distance. It did not matter how tired nor how sad we were, we would forget about all when we saw the baby sea turtles and understand that they all worth it.
The famous anaphor of Beşgöz, Arbour Musa, dear ghost crabs, jet-ski staff proposing us free tour and the seals in the sea of Aksu are some of the things I cannot forget. What is left behind of Belek are the backgammon tournaments (I became the last), Çetin Market, Aquafun, folk songs of Ankaralı Turgut, swimming pools of the hotels, the terrace and guitar parties and SIKE-the hairdresser...Besides, once we stole the car and fleed to Side. I should confess one thing, that I cannot think of Belek project without our teacher Ali Fuat!
It is very hard to summarize what I feel because too many things come to my mind when you say Belek! Sometimes we had the time of our lives, sometimes we came to the limit of breakdown; sometimes we broke each other's hearts, sometimes we consoled each other; sometimes we got very tired, sometimes hitch hiked for kilometers; sometimes we rebelled, sometimes we said how nice we are spending our time; sometimes we were very hospitable -we were 50 people inside the house at times-, and sometimes we said "enough! when are they leaving?"
...But we always loved Belek, GSM, the Earthwatch volunteers, each other and of course the sea turtles. And now, all have special places for me! I, like everyone else, have also gone to Belek venturing particular things and came back glad. I would like to thank the whole research team for this. But of course, I would like to thank my teacher, Ali Fuat, for making it all come true. Meanwhile, I was among the thieves that took the car to Side. I want to apologize for what happened during that night shift but isn't it my right as your mother? And before I forget, "Koprucay passengers, all aboard!"
Ever since I first learned about the project, the desire inside have always lead me there. When I took the decision of going, I saw that the voice inside me was right. This project which lasted for months by all means, makes you taste everything that you should feel and live. I saw that this world does need other creatures as well it needs you. Despite the fact that we wear this world out, it is indeed a wonderful experience to participate in one of the studies correcting this.
During the first days there was a slight tiredness, tracks on the sand and data sheets...and then night shifts....and the first excitement. Thus, this is not all. First egg laying, first hatchling, just at that moment you see that there's nothing left of the tiredness. Only thing left behind is happiness and peace of nature. While you touch them, you touch the witnesses of a million years. And all experiences seized and lived, make you feel again that you are a human being. I believe in the necessity and the continuance of this project which synthesizes science with team work, group living, bitter and sweet memories, rushing around, excitement and confusion all together.
I would like to give my thanks to Onur Turkecan for always couraging me, to all my team friends for always being ready to help, to Deniz Candas for always being there with her endless love and help and to my dear esteemed teacher Ali Fuat Canbolat, Ph.D who deserves love and respect with all his manners for always being by my side; becoming essential with all meanings and merits he has added to my life besides sharing my tears, my happiness and distresses.
Someone has spied on us long before...
I remember our first day going to Belek occupying nearly the whole bus! First seeds of team spirit were sown on that very first day while helping each other carrying our magnificent luggage and tidying up "our house". Soon after we had an enormous and a wonderful garden, and we probably became the most crowded family in Turkey.
During the warming-up period, our happiest hours were the times when we had our meals and when we finally went to sleep. Guitar sounds that filled up the stairs, lively football matches, parties with extremely delicious raw meatballs that my namesake Deniz Hoca made, backgammon tournaments, our terrace parties and birthdays we celebrated together, folk songs and folk dances made us more and more "inseparable" each day. What accelerated the warming-up period was the "first time" excitement we felt each time we saw those wonderful creatures during our field work.
In this research with such a big team, maps getting full and data sheets piling up as we reached the end were both the sign of success and the best compensation for all efforts and sleepless nights for us. To talk about data sheets, one of the moments I would never forget is definitely that night when we managed to stuff 25 people into that small room for fast data arrangement for 4 hours!
Beyond all, this summer had a very special meaning for me as I met the most precious gift of my life. Perhaps I owe my turtles something extra..
And my friend, my brother, my fellow sufferer, my teacher, my dear life teacher Ali Fuat Canbolat...I had given my word to you 4 years ago when I was a little new student "Always, whatever happens, in any condition, I'll always be by your side, we will be.."
Once said, always valid!
I may say that I have spent the most beautiful 3 months of my life by participating in the sea turtle project. You get surprised when you see the perfect natural beauty of Dalyan, especially the sunsets. It was the beginning of June when I first saw Dalyan beach and it was very quiet, there were hardly a few people. I thought of myself deserted on an island and forgot to take three vital things I would need. But the three vital things I would need were already there...
The natural life of Dalyan is affected by the Caretta's. Entrance to the beach is only allowed between 8.00 and 20.00.We were able to work very comfortably during morning and night shifts. The most enjoying part was the hatchling emergences. Watching the hatchlings emerging and reaching the sea rouse the maternal instincts inside one without being aware. You suppose that they are your babies (And of course I felt like a mother to my camp friends especially at the last period of the camp). Dalyan sea turtle project has been a very nice experience for me in terms of discovering the nature and its beauties.
Have you ever seen a sea turtle struggling to reach to the sea? If not, it means you missed a lot. Trying not to think of any kind of danger around, with its short steps, the hatchlings entering the sea must be like the biggest achievement of a human being as he had ever wished in his entire life. If you see a turtle like that, you can understand what the real life is. Birth, growing up, ageing and death. These are the steps of life that any person will have in life. Their order never changes unless extraordinary situations occur. But a turtle hatchling, unlike human beings and domestic animals, starts a journey just after its birth without any idea about life. This journey can end either in a few seconds or a few years. But whenever it happens, there is always an uncertainty.
If it is up to me, the best thing to do is to live that moment and to avoid planning the future. Actually there will be a moment that will determine what our future will be. The important thing is to appreciate that moment.This writing is out of subject, or unexpected maybe, but whatever, I live with the turtles and they helped me to realise living for the moment and trying to be happy anytime.
What about the Camp, or the Project, or Belek? You should discover and figure it out as I did...
Sea Turtle Reserach Team, BELEK-2000
Top Row (Left to right): Gökhan Halıcı, Damla Akyıldız, Mahmut Kabalak, Sevgi Bağışlar, Aslı Mete, Canan Gıcır, Volkan Akay, Sinem Yetiş, İkbal Akdoğan, Nazı Yanbuloğlu, Deniz Candaş, Onur Candan, Hüseyin Güler, Kerem Atatunç
Bottom Row (Left to right): A. Fuat Canbolat, Başak Güner; Berna Demirci, Ulaş Mert, Deniz İnnal, Onur Türkecan, Ahmet Dursun, Saffet Öztürk, Kemal Yücel
Friends not in the picture: Pelin Bayrak, Şirin Çevik
Photos: Ali Fuat Canbolat