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MARINE TURTLE CONSERVATION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

13th UPDATE REPORT AND REVIEW OF NATURE CONSERVATION MEASURES IN PATARA SPA, TURKEY Report to the 29th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Prepared by MEDASSET The Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles With grateful thanks to T.A. & A. Cutbush and Dr. P. Yilmaz October 2009

1. INTRODUCTION. Turkey is one of the main Mediterranean countries (with Greece and Cyprus) where major loggerhead nesting grounds are located (Groombridge, 1988). In Turkey, Patara beach is an important nesting site mainly for loggerhead turtle, first recorded during a survey conducted in 1988 (Baran and Kasparek, 1989). The Turkish government on 2 March 1990, declared the area a Specially Protected Area (SPA), and put it under the responsibility of the Authority for Specially Protected Areas (ASPA). In 2000, two green turtle nests were also identified, representing the first record of this species in Patara (Erdogan et al., 2001), the westernmost substantiated site for Chelonia mydas nesting in the Mediterranean (Kasparek et al., 2001). Since 1988, there has been considerable concern for this nesting beach as uncontrolled tourism development may cause the loss or degradation of an important turtle nesting habitat and a unique archaeological site. The Patara issue was first raised by MEDASSET in 1988 and has since been supported by others at the Standing Committee Meetings of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), where it was subsequently discussed on a regular basis. After the Standing Committee expressed the wish to examine the case of marine turtles in Patara as an urgent case in January 1996 (T-PVS (96) 50), an on-the-spot appraisal was carried out on 21-23 August the same year in order to clarify open questions. The appraisal Report that followed (T-PVS (96) 65) made detailed Recommendations, and the Standing Committee decided in December 1996 to open a file on Patara in order to monitor the effectiveness of conservation measures. MEDASSET carried out a field survey in summer 1998, and subsequently submitted a report to the Standing Committee Meeting of the Bern Convention with detailed specific Recommendations for conservation and management (T-PVS (98) 49). Further updated reports and reviews of Conservation Measures were submitted from 1999 to 2007. In view of the generally positive development it was decided at the 2001 Standing 1


Committee Meeting to close the file despite some remaining problems. Turkey was asked to continue submitting reports to the Standing Committee on progress made. As a result of MEDASSET’s ongoing “Save Patara” campaign which begun in 1989 in collaboration with Turkish archaeologist Prof. Isik of Antalya University, the Programme Officer of UNEP/MAP was invited by the Turkish government to visit Patara on 12 March 2002 regarding the campaign for the proposal of “World Heritage Site Status”. The aim of this review is to monitor the progress made since 2007 in implementing the Recommendations made by the Standing Committee for the protection of Patara as proposed in 1996 and in 1998.

2. OVERVIEW Following the assessment of Patara nesting beach presented to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention in 2007; a follow-up assessment was made in summer 2009. In 2008 İnsan ve Doğa Derneği (a local NGO based in Antalya) officially run the project and Akdeniz University was responsible for the scientific monitoring and conservation. In 2009 Tarımsal Kalkınma Vakfı (a foundation based in Ankara) was responsible for the project and volunteers from Hacettepe University and Dokuz Eylul University carried out the monitoring. Some positive conservation measures were noticed such as some beach monitoring, the existence of protective cages and the operation of the Information Kiosk. However, the plantation and erosion issues still remain. The erosion meant some nests were reported to have been re-located, to prevent inundation. Plantations with rapidly growing trees are a serious problem in Patara. While such plantations are necessary at some places to stop moving sand dunes to protect buildings and archeological sites, they can be disastrous at other places, as they destroy the natural ecosystem. Moving sand dunes are a very rare, endangered habitat which requires active conservation and protection. There are only two such sites in Turkey: Patara and Akyatan (Çukurova delta). Separate bins for plastics, glass and paper are set along the beaches but users do not apply waste separation. The number of sun-beds on the beach has increased to meet the increasing demand from day trippers from places such as nearby coastal town Kalkan, and there is total lack of enforcement of any of the conservation restrictions by the Authority of Special Proteced Areas, ASPA. The only enforced restriction witnessed was closure of the beach from 20:00.

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3. PATARA BEACH •

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The area currently managed by the village municipality which accommodates sunbeds and other tourist facilities (toilets, bar and sun-bed rental hut), was extended to the Northwest and Southeast considerably in 2007 and even more so in 2009. The area occupied by sunbeds has increased, as has the volume of beach furniture. The cordon that once delineated this section has been removed. Visitors who do not wish to pay for these facilities, use the beach beyond them to the east, thus encroaching further onto the nesting section. At either side of the facility area, there is a line of wooden marker posts, at 3m intervals stretching for approx. 50m, 20m in from the shore. Signs on these posts indicate that it is a nesting site, thus delineating the beach area that tourists can use. However, there was no evidence of this being enforced in 2009. The information kiosk established in 2005 was seen open only once out of 3 days. Educational material, such as posters and leaflets, were not available. As in 2007, the absence of bins meant that litter continued to be a problem. Some protective metal cages were placed on nests near the Beach Patrol table / sunbed / umbrella area. Some protective cages were reported to have been moved by visitors. Other nests were marked with natural materials (e.g. marked tree branches). As in 2007, it is evident that the far eastern end of the beach, where there is less human activity and less adverse erosion, is where more nesting activity is located. The “restaurant area” by the car park still remains unused. As witnessed and based on evidence of tracks, dogs are still being allowed on the beach.

4. ÇAYAĞZI •

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At Çayağzi, located at the middle of the beach where Esen river meets the sea, the nesting beach is now in a desperately poor condition, after several years of deterioration. The width of the beach has greatly reduced since 2007. As reported in 2005 and 2007, the plantation of Acacia trees in dunes still causes erosion, creating ridges on the beach at the water’s edge. As the area is subjected to constant wind action, the sand shifts towards the high parts of the dune and creates ridges on the beach. Acacia trees planted in the upper part of the dune forming a barrier to sand are exacerbating the erosion – tall species increase sand deposition rather than stabilising the dune system. Naturally occurring vegetation is growing on the beach between the Acacia trees and the water’s edge. Camping continues on the riverbanks, within view of the beach, causing light and noise problems. Noise can prevent turtles from nesting and light can disorientate hatchlings away from the waterline. Vehicles enter the beach from the east side of the river. There is now a more formalized parking area, on the southeast riverbank directly next to the river and approx 100m from the beach. The fence beyond the vehicle barrier is no longer effective due to neglect and burial by sand. As a result goats regularly enter the beach. 3


Litter and animal carcasses are washed down onto the beach from the river. Agricultural chemical containers were seen among the litter. Added to the naturally occurring flotsam and jetsam, as well as the increasing amount of waste left behind by beach visitors, Çayağzi continues to face a serious waste problem. Monitoring and/or enforcement are non-existent beyond the car parking area.

5. OZDENÇAY •

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At the beach section located at the west end where the small river Ozdençay meets the sea, palms and rushes planted in 2007 are now well established and there is evidence of additional, organized, large-scale planting of rushes on the beach, that are now occupying a further 10 - 15m at the west end of the beach where Ozdençay river joins the sea. This new plantation is about 50 m. from the sea shore (in front of the earlier plantation) and 200m. long. As the plantations grow, the sand stops spreading and forms small mounds in front of the trees, making the beach narrower. Nests are covered with extra sand by the winds during the summer and/or are easily inundated due to erosion. Changing cubicles were added to the beach at regular intervals. The barrier preventing vehicle access to beach at Ozdençay remains; however, motorbikes were observed on the beach. As in previous years, the kiosk located at the entrance of the beach is run by the local authorities. There is still camping on the riverbank, in view of beach. Noise can prevent turtles from nesting and light can disorientate hatchlings away from the waterline.

6. RECOMMENDATIONS. • • • • • •

All areas require constant enforcement of conservation rules; it is currently minimal, bordering to non-existent. Sea turtle monitoring and conservation activities by the Universities should be continued. Driving on the beach should be prohibited and this rule strictly enforced, in particular during the nesting season in order to avoid negative impact on nesting females and hatching success. Control of waste being dumped upstream in the rivers feeding the beach needs to be implemented as soon as possible, as well as a beach cleaning programme. Use of beach should be restricted to the designated areas and controlled during the breeding season. Wooden posts indicating the borders of the nesting area could be placed on all beaches. The information kiosk at Patara is underused. As recommended in 2005 and 2007, educational material related to conservation needs to be provided to beach users. Full time manning is required. The attendants when in place should be empowered to make hourly beach patrols to distribute information leaflets and remove people and 4


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animals from prohibited areas. Environmental education and awareness raising among local people can be developed through the establishment of an Information Centre in Patara village. The unused restaurant at Patara could be used instead of the “on beach” kiosk. Run as an alternative to the café/bar on the beach it would attract people away from the nesting area, reducing littering and disturbance. The plantations that are causing critical degradation of the beach should be removed and a dune restoration project that aims to re-establish a Mediterranean dune ecosystem, by planting native vegetation, should be considered.

7. T-PVS REPORTS Technical reports presented by MEDASSET to the Standing Committee to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) at the Council of Europe, published under T-PVS Reference: T-PVS (96) 53A: MEDASSET (P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz): Conservation of Loggerhead Turtles, Caretta caretta, and Construction Projects on the Beach of Patara (Turkey), 2 pages. (Follow-up report with Comments on the: ‘Status Report on Patara Specially Protected Area, Turkey’ by the Authority for the Protection of Special Areas, APSA (23/5/96)). T-PVS (96) 53: MEDASSET: Conservation of Loggerhead Turtles, Caretta caretta, and Construction Projects on the Beach of Patara (Turkey), 9 pages. (Brief Update on MEDASSET’s action to “Save Patara” 1989-1996). T-PVS (97) 45: P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz: Marine Turtle Conservation in Patara, Turkey, follow-up report, 4 pages. T-PVS (98) 49: MEDASSET (additional information P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz): Specific Site, Marine Turtle Conservation in Patara, Turkey, 13 pages. T-PVS (99) 69: MEDASSET: Specific Site, Caretta caretta in Patara (Turkey), 11 pages. (Status Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures). T-PVS (2000) 57: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, Univerity of Akdeniz and Trevor Jones): Conservation of the marine turtle, Caretta caretta, in Patara Turkey, 13 pages. (Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures). T-PVS (2001) 72: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, University of Akdeniz, Trevor Jones and 4 volunteers): Review of Nature Conservation Situation in Patara Spa, Turkey, 11 pages. T-PVS/Files (2002) 14: MEDASSET, (information supplied by P. Yilmaz, Univerity of Akdeniz): Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara SPA (Turkey), 10 pages. T-PVS/Files (2003) 12:, prepared by Dr. Monica Aureggi, Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara SPA (Turkey), 25 pages. T-PVS/Files (2004) 13: Commissioned by MEDASSET, information supplied by T.A. Cutbush, A. Cutbush and Dr. P. Yilmaz, Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara SPA (Turkey, 7 pages. T-PVS/Files (2005) 09: Commissioned by MEDASSET, information supplied by Dr Pamir Yilmaz and Stephanie Perkin. Update report and review of nature conservation measures in Patara Spa (Turkey), 9 pages. Published without a T-PVS reference (2007): Commissioned by MEDASSET, information supplied by T.A. and A. Cutbush. Update Report and Review of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara Spa, Turkey, 7 pages.

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8. MAP OF THE PATARA BEACH AND SPA.

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: SPA Boundary

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Patara beach is located within Mugla and Antalya provinces and has a total length of approximately 12 km. The West and East sections of the beach are separated by the mouth of the river Esençnoy. 1: Ozdençay – Location of palm and rush planting. 2: Cayagzi – Location of Acacia Trees and severe narrowing of beach. 3: Area described as “Patara Beach”, Southeast end. The dotted lines indicate the borders of areas which have been protected as “archaeological sites”.

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9. PHOTOGRAPHS.

PATARA: Marked nest next to garbage bin with people walking over the nesting area.

PATARA: Protective cage moved from nest.

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PATARA: Nesting area sign in foreground, tourist facilities on nesting beach in background.

ÇAYAĞZI: Dune profile and litter behind it.

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ÇAYAĞZI: Narrowing of the Beach since 2007 due to erosion.

ÇAYAĞZI: Natural vegetation growing on beach.

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ÇAYAĞZI: Litter deposit from river onto beach.

ÇAYAĞZI: Conservation Signs, Camping & Vehicle Tracks on Beach.

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OZDENÇAY: More planting has taken place since 2007.

OZDENÇAY: The 2007 plantations are now well established.

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Published without a T-PVS reference: 13th Update Report of Nature Conservation Measures in Patara