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