Turtle SOS

How it all started

You can rebuild buildings, you can regrow forests, but you can never replace an animal species that becomes extinct.

Dekafok

After leaving the UK in January 2020 in an attempt to drive around the world, it wasn’t long after our departure that the Covid Pandemic swept across the world and we found ourselves in lockdown for 95 days in a car park in Old town Istanbul.    

14 months later, and we were still in Turkiye travelling and filming, waiting for the borders to open. During those months there were still lockdowns every weekend, so we would try to find somewhere nice to park up from Friday evening until Monday morning. One such weekend we found ourselves on the beach in Manavgat in Turkiye’s Southern region of Antalya.

Each morning we saw a lone woman being dropped off by the Jandarma (Military Police) and watched as she spent hours picking up rubbish in the blistering heat.  We looked on wondering whether maybe she was being punished with some kind of community work?

One morning we offered her a cold drink or food, and asked her why she was picking up rubbish each day……  That was the first time we met Seher.

Her story started in May 2020, whilst walking along the beach with her son, she came across a dead, crushed turtle next to an open turtle nest. 

The female loggerhead turtle, which had come up to lay her precious cargo, had been hit by car driving on the beach, and had died whilst laying her eggs.

Seher was so affected by this, that she quit her job in a local law firm to dedicate her life to protecting the sea turtles. We soon realised that only someone special would do that! 

Manavgat’s beach has a huge population of loggerhead turtles (which are classed as vulnerable) and endangered green turtles.

Over the next couple of years  Seher practically lived in a tent on the beach to do what she could to protect the turtles and their nests. 

She has single handedly organised huge beach cleans, spending months sleeping on the beach during the laying and hatching seasons, campaigned to get approval from local authorities to build a rescue centre and worked hard to publicise the need to protect these turtles. 

But there is only so much one person can do, as she is constantly working tirelessly to educate locals and tourists about the dangers of driving cars / rented ATV’s over the beach, having BBQs, putting up lights at night, these are just some of the dangers that face the mothers laying and the juvenile turtles hatching.

We met Seher at a fortuitous time. She had already discussed with her son and her friends that she could not go on, she was exhausted physically, but also financially broke. She had spent all her savings on trying to protect the turtles, and hadn’t had a wage for over a year. She had decided that she could no longer carry this responsibility alone anymore. 

”We felt we had a moral obligation to help, we realised we just couldn’t walk away”