Biologists urge protection of green sea turtles in Türkiye’s Marmara
The recent deaths of green sea turtles, a native to the Marmara Sea, along the coast of Türkiye’s northwestern province of Kocaeli has inspired a push to officially label the endangered species protected in the country.
One rather large turtle, weighing around 100 kilograms (220 pounds), washed up on the shore in the Başiskele district of Kocaeli, garnering the attention of the citizens and biologists in the same-named province. The distressed creature died soon after being discovered onshore by people nearby. Biologists believe its death was caused by being hit by a boat.
Professor Halim Aytekin Ergül from Kocaeli’s University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology Lecturer said: “They are having difficulties because they cannot find a natural habitat for themselves. Although they are found in the fauna of the Marmara Sea, we see that their numbers have decreased a lot, and they need to be protected.”
Citizens who came across the beached turtle informed the municipality team, but it died before the municipal crews arrived.
“The tortoise, whose photos we saw, washed up on the shore and then unfortunately died. It is probably the Chelonia Mydas species, whose natural habitat is the Marmara Sea. These should be protected species, their populations are not very high,” Ergül explained.
“Healthy conditions must be provided in the ecosystem for their protection and life to be sustainable,” he added.
“This is actually our duty. In particular, we must allow space for these animals to access sand beaches; however, approximately only 3% of the area in the Gulf of Izmit has remained untouched. Almost all the other coastal areas are filled with ports or various harbors, piers and breakwaters. Therefore, development has mostly destroyed the natural habitats of these creatures,” he underscored.
Reiterating that the number of sea turtles has decreased, Ergül pointed out the other factors that affect the adaptation of the turtles, including salinity and the sea temperature.
“They are cold-blooded organisms. Therefore, the conditions of the environment they are in are important to them. They look for suitable habitats. Environments with seagrass meadows are important for their nutrition,” the professor noted.
He also noted that studies on the species found in the Marmara had been carried out and are included in the literature, yet he stressed that the number of studies should be increased.
“A study on the population and abundance of these animals should be conducted. In this regard, we need to take action and formulate a plan,” Ergül underscored.
Furthermore, Ergül noted that the coastal settlements pose a risk for these organisms, adding that wastewater is another significant issue. “Dirty water from houses, factories and agricultural activity can be even more dangerous, especially in semi-enclosed ecosystems such as the Marmara Sea,” he said, adding that it is people’s duty to protect our future as well as the future of other organisms we have to live with.
Cüneyt Özer, secretary general of the Kocaeli Chamber of Veterinarians, said that green sea turtles, though found in the Marmara, are species that are more suitable for living in the Mediterranean and that the conditions in the Marmara are limited for them.
“When we look at the environmental factors and climate change, global climate differences naturally disrupt the physiology of animals. The salinity of the sea in the Mediterranean region and the salinity of the Marmara Sea differ by 10 degrees. There is a 4-degree difference in sea temperature,” he concluded.
The range of green sea turtles extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas worldwide, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are also found in the Indian Ocean.
Source: Daily Sabah
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