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Captain June and Dekamer

03 August 2018 Friday

I wake up with an intense excitement today. Don’t get me wrong, each day is exciting here but today is a little bit more special and a quite unique. While I travel around the world, I sometimes spend a lot of days and also most of my budget just to see some animals or maybe just to get a chance to touch them.  When I heard about the Best Job in Turkey – I thought about one thing, even before preparing my application video; Sea turtles, in other words, loggerhead turtles and the similar type which is called Green turtle.

So today is the day.

Having this special moment, at one of the very first days of my holiday excites me even more. I got into this shock of happiness, not gradually but right away, at my first week in Dalyan.

My day was planned to spend at the 5 km long untouched beach of Iztuzu. Dekamer (Sea turtle research rescue and rehabilitation center) is the most special part of my visit but first I visit someone very special for Dalyan, Captain June, to meet and to have an interview.

Captain June came to Dalyan at first in 1984 and then she moved here in 1987, later she became one of the most important figures of this place. She is English but Turkish by heart, a nature lover. I should say a nature adorer actually; otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible to be that strong at an age very close to 100.

Captain June’s hut is just 100 meters away from the Dekamer, which is one of the very few huts around. And that hut is build on a base that was made by the companies planning to erect hotels at the beach. What makes Captain June special is that 30 years ago, she was one of those people who stopped them to build hotels and ruin the nature.

She first welcomes us with some hesitation but very kindly. After a little chit-chat, she talks very friendly. We make a short interview with her. She shares her high class life with us that she had all around Europe and why she left all that to live here in a hut and what is special about this place but actually this doesn’t really need much explanation; protected by mountains, backed by rivers and lakes, forests all around and surrounded by turtles… there is even more to tell but sometimes it is not that possible to express everything.

After each question the talk gets friendlier and before we leave, she holds me and says, I liked you, I will give you a present. She stands quickly from her seat despite her old age and gives her book to me. I take the book that she sings with pleasure and sing their petition to protect the nature and make some donations to her organization.

After that I start checking the turtle museum. The founder of Dekamer, Professor Yakup Kaska briefly informs me about the place. There are approximately 30 students volunteering with pleasure for Dekamer from all around the world, mainly from Turkey. It might seem like they have limited conditions but once you learn the things they have achieved and how much they have accomplished, you start respecting them. Professor Yakup Kaska and Professor Eyüp Başkale tells that they cure injuries such as; cuts of boat screw, cases of swallowing fishing hook. Further on, they tell me that there is a turtle that has been cured after 6 months of treatment and he is ready to go back to swimming in the open sea once again.

When I won this competition, they were telling at one of the major TV channels in Turkey that “I was the luckiest person”. I won with the help of all those things I have done so far in my life but being able to see something that happens that rarely, is certainly a luck.

People in Dekamer tells that because of feeding turtles by hand, they think humans as a source of food therefore they check humans for food. This is the actual reason why they bite people. Compare to their extremely strong jaws, they don’t bite humans that strong, this shows that they actually check people but not bite properly. Professor Kaska underlines the importance of not feeding turtles and tells how much they work to control that. When people learn that I will swim with a turtle they tell me “what if he bites?” We spend 30 lovely minutes; no bites, no checking.

The joy of swimming with a turtle is something that can’t be explained by words, for me. They tell me that in 3 hours I will witness babies leaving their nests. I get so excited that I feel like I might pass out for jow. I guess being this much happy in a day should be dangerous.

I spend those 3 hours to write my story to share with you guys which eases my excitement a bit.

And after that another shock of joy… These creatures are so cute, whether they are big or small. They tell me how important that those babies should reach to the sea by themselves. I carefully listen the things that I pay attention. I help the process with intense care by following the rules. They are born 50 cm under the sand and they reach to the sea by paddling 10 – 20 meters. Volunteers watch the whole process cautiously and I support them as the new volunteer for a day.

We stay at the beach until 2 am. Right after all the babies leave their nests, we open an old nest to check the remaining. At the nest that we open, we find 68 eggs and 6 unfertilized eggs.

But this still doesn’t mean that all those that reach to the sea survive. Among one thousand babies only 3 to 5 gets to maturity. When you think that these turtles actually live 80 to 100 years old, maturity age which is 25, is actually very young. In other words, among the turtles that Dekamer saves, more less 1 out of one thousand actually grows old.

The team puts cages to protect the eggs from wild animals and they walk the 5 km long beach all night long to check if there is a mother giving a birth.

On the way back, I learn something very catchy about loggerhead turtles. Female babies remember the beach that they are born and no matter what part of the world they are, if they get old enough to give a birth one day, they come to that same beach to give a birth.

This very amazing circle of life actually shows how great the things Dekamer is doing for Dalyan.

By the name of turtles: Thank you Dekamer.

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