Turkey's southern Antalya province is among the largest nesting areas for endangered Caretta Caretta sea turtles.
About 70,000 endangered sea turtle hatchlings are expected to crawl into the sea from Turkey's southern coast this summer.
Caretta Caretta turtles, also known as loggerheads, are at risk of going extinct due to predators and destruction of their natural habitat, however, Turkish authorities and volunteers show utmost care to ensure their survival.
Ali Fuat Canbolat, the head of Ecological Research Society (EKAD), and 150 other volunteers are currently on guard duty in line with a sea turtle protection project and watch over hatchlings day and night.
The team of volunteers monitor egg-laying grounds and protect the babies from threats in Belek and Bogazkent neighbourhoods of Antalya province. They ensure that the tiny turtles grow healthy and reach the sea without encountering any trouble.
Canbolat told Anadolu Agency that female turtles laid eggs in 1,700 nests in 2019 and the hatchlings left the nests 15 days later than usual due to cold weather conditions.
"We expect 70,000 hatchlings to crawl into the sea in Belek. Not all hatchlings survive after reaching the sea. Only one or two of almost a thousand hatchlings can survive and this figure is more than enough to ensure their survival," he said.
He underlined that there were about 400 nests in Belek back in 1998, however, this figure soared in the coming years thanks to the efforts of volunteers.
The volunteers stayed up all night to guard the hatchlings, Canbolat said, living in tents and prefabricated houses.
"The living space of Caretta Carettas must be respected. One should not enter their nesting areas with ATV and off-road cars," he said, calling on the authorities to exercise more caution.
He concluded that the protection of wildlife was a responsibility not only for volunteers and academics but for the people of the world.
Penalty on driver
Turkish authorities penalise anyone who poses a risk to the hatchlings or damages their natural habitat.
For instance, a driver on July 20 started drifting on a beach where baby sea turtles hatch and start their run toward the sea.
The driver turned a deaf ear to warnings by visitors on the beach, ultimately damaging some nesting areas.
The driver was arrested by local authorities and now has to pay a fine of $11,000 or face jail time.
People are also not allowed to light bonfires on these beaches.
This is because the baby turtles confuse the bonfire with sunlight, which they use to navigate, leading them to wild bushes instead of the sea.