By Suleyman Cetin
ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) - Over 70,000 baby sea turtles crawled into the sea from Turkey's Mediterranean coast this year, an official said Tuesday.
The endangered Caretta Caretta turtle laid eggs at beaches in Belek district of Antalya province, said Ali Fuat Canbolat, the head of Ecological Research Society (EKAD).
Canbolat and 90 volunteers from five different countries were on guard duty day and night on the beaches for three months as part of the turtle protection program.
They protected spawning areas and ensured the tiny turtles crawl into the sea without any trouble.
"Its worth mentioning that the volunteers stayed up all night to guard the hatchlings," Canbolat said, living in tents and pre-fabricated houses.
He added that only half of the hatchlings are able to reach the sea as most of them are hunted by predators and birds.
"Only one or two out of thousands of hatchlings survive. Laying lots of eggs is crucial for the survival of species with such a high mortality rate."
He said 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.
*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin