Housesitting in Turkey, Life of adventure

The Fight for the Turtle

It is not Dalyan township that is beautiful; it is what surrounds it.

From the stunning 4.5 km long and narrow spit of land, Iztuzu Beach, more fondly known internationally as Turtle Beach, to the fresh, cold waters of mountainous Yuvarlakçay and the towering ancient city of Kaunos, there is an incredible environment to look at, experience and enjoy in every direction. 

The town of Dalyan has a few delights, though it does owe much of its touristic success to the natural environment in which it sits, so it seems incredulous to think that there are people in this world who want to ruin it.

Sadly, these people do exist.

Iztuzu Beach has been an area of many protests against privatisation over the years.

All it seems is a simple wish.

That wish is to retain Dalyan’s traditional and natural charm through the introduction of more electric powered boats to service the Dalyan waterways than what is currently in use. One of the more prominent business owners fighting for more electric boats introduced the first boat to Dalyan, which is at Dalyan Resort Hotel. The majority of boats are still using oil and petrol. This, I believe is an ongoing fight to achieve a balance for locals to make a living and protect the environment and the species that live there.

These are environmentalists with a passion. 

June Haimoff is one such person who is very much known to locals and the world with her tireless work with the turtles.

Born in Essex into a family who loved to travel, thanks to her father’s career as a petroleum engineer. Her love affair with the Dalyan region started in 1975, long before the district had succumbed to the tourism trade.

Over the years, June and her sailing boat, the Bouboulina, visited Dalyan so often that the locals gave her the title of Kaptan June [originally Kaptan Bouboulina] which is still very much the name she is known as today.

June eventually settled in Dalyan and lived in her beach hut on Iztuzu Beach [presently resides in the township of Dalyan]. With her discovery of tracks and a turtle laying eggs and nesting on Iztuzu beach began her fight to conserve this natural habitat.

From 1984 to 1998, she used every resource she could find to win her battle with letters to Prince Philip, head of the World Wildlife Fund. She was in touch with conservationists such as David Bellamy. He alongside Günther Peter, Nergis Yazgan, and Keith Corbett launched an international campaign against the developers to save the beach and the turtle’s nesting habitat, backed by organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Greenpeace and WWF. Prince Philip himself asked the Turkish Prime Minister for a moratorium while awaiting an environmental impact assessment, was granted.

Finally, in July 1998, the Turkish government decided against the development and Iztuzu Beach was given Special Environmental Protection Area status. 

Kaptan June managed to implement some changes to the usage of the beach which have protected the turtles ever since. The beach is only open between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm during the summer season, vehicles and animals are not permitted to enter the beach, and sun loungers and speedboats are forbidden in the marked nesting zones. 

As short-term visitors, what can we do to help?

  • Pick up litter, regularly, even though it was not you who dropped it
  • When shopping, you could bring cloth bags to put your groceries into instead of using plastic bags.
  • If you see a person drop rubbish pick it up and show them by example what should be done
  • Don’t use boats that aren’t electrical. Make sure before you enter into a boat that it has a Kapton June sticker on it which proves the boat is turtle friendly
  • Support her cause, [The Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation focuses on the protection of the beach, the implementation of propeller guards and the education of the future generation] by either visiting her hut and buying a book about her work
  • Please don’t feed the turtles; we would not go to the local Dalyan restaurant where they feed the turtles
  • Support local artists who donate part of their proceeds to Kaptan June’s cause


39 thoughts on “The Fight for the Turtle”

  1. Wowza, June is such a star!

    The most exciting part of our honeymoon in Grece was swimming with a giant turtle. It is so good to hear they have some protected places to spend their turtle time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I just love this post! Sea turtles have a special spot in my heart. What an incredible person June is. She has my respect! Oh, and your photo of the turtle and the crab – AMAZING!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it sure would be a pleasure to meet June. If I get there, I will be sure to find her 🙂 P.S. I’m going to share this post with my mother. She LOVES sea turtles, and any rehabilitation/conservation efforts that surround them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The need to pick up litter is well highlighted in this as well, so many turtles and other sea life die out at sea, entangled in rafts of our crap. Lovely and informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful story! I admire any individual who can take a passion of theirs, a belief, and actually do something about it, so well done to Kaptain June! Love turtles! We swam with them on our honeymoon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never even heard of this place before! So glad that she’s helping to make a difference. If I ever go, I shall help too for sure! 😊 thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Captain June is quite the lady! I’m always amazed at and in awe of people that follow their passions and make a difference in this world, especially environmentally. That is quite the challenge, especially in less developed regions or where the locals depend on a certain way of life and only think short-term. So nice that she actually moved to Dalyan. Have you been able to meet June or see any turtles? Or is it not the season? Dalyan sure seems to offer a lot of things to see and do!

    (I tried to leave a comment a few days ago when driving across country, but it never got through, hence my late response. :-))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of the turtles at her hut are needing care. Most turtle activity is dawn or dusk. Unfortunately most
      Boat operations feed the turtles to get more tourists. Captain June is not as active as she was. Thanks for commenting always love to hear from you 🌞 Love the sunset photos at your new destination!! More to do here during the cooler months. Too hot after midday during summer as most days it reaches 35 to 40 degs

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We fell in love with Dalyan for all the beauty of these waters and its wildlife and flora. I’m so glad you’ve gotten to experience them as well and know about those who are fighting everyday for the environment there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent article and photos!

    I’ve never heard of June. What an amazing lady; she looks like an old salt (in our yachtie terms of endearment). All these people out there that spend decades of their life doing good for the planet and no one hears about them.

    We need more of these stories to show others that little steps can lead to great changes, especially where the environment’s concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, Nilla. June was awarded the Queens honour, though I am not sure which one. That’s what I love about blogging and moving around the different communities as I can give back a little bit in the way of promoting the area. I mean in a little way as my blog is not that promoted 🙂 The big bonus for us is that we are educating ourselves more on the world we live in. Plus the obvious bonus and that is the connection to other bloggers! I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorelle, she is amazingly determined woman, though there are many people over the years that have supported her and the cause. I am unsure of all the names so I chose not to include less known in case I got it wrong. What is needed more is for the Turkish people to get more involved with recycling and cleaning out the waterways on a regular basis. Those are a few that are the more visible issues. It can take generations to have people aware of environmental issues as food on the table and money in their pockets is a far bigger priority, which I can understand.

      Liked by 1 person

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