The sad tale of surfing a relentless tide of plastic bottles & builders rubble

During Easter 2014 my family & I had our first trip to Turkey where we stayed at the Liberty Hotel, Lara Beach, Antalya, a superb hotel with great staff, but more importantly for me, one that was on the edge of the coastal strip and all the development that goes with that, offering easy access to the open spaces beyond. 

I chose well and had some truely memorable wildlife experiences within a mile or so of the hotel, some of which were totally unexpected but never the less were amongst the best I’ve ever had. One of the species that I was both delighted & surprised to find was the Spur-thighed Tortoise – Testudo graeca the first wild tortoise that I had ever seen.

However these bright shiny paragons of modern tourism virtue have been built at a cost, and as usual, that cost is bourne by the natural world.

The relentless march of destruction appears to be reaching it’s final few chapters here as an ugly spur of builders rubble & general waste tares deep into the middle of the remaining dunes & reedbed, almost reaching the coastal pool like a foreboding finger.

It is the through the remaining pockets of “natural” landscape that our planet breathes, and yet slowly but surely we destroy them with barely a second thought.

Spur–thighed Tortoises can live around 100 years in captivity and judging by the size of them the tortoises I found must have been around for a couple of decades at least. During that time they will have seen their habitat shrink so drastically that they now have only the narrow strip between the river & the hotels when once they may have roamed across an extensive area of fixed dune at the mouth of a large vibrant river. Sadly even the river is now little more than a collection point for 100s of discarded plastic bottles, when once the liquid it delivered was the most revered resource on the planet.

All this may sound deeply depressing, but the truth is wildlife doesn’t recognise the awful asthetics of a heavily littered river or builder’s rubble. For them it is just a question of does the habitat provide food, the correct breeding conditions & other similar triggers. Some plants & animals will thrive amongst the rubbish, some will not, and it is these species that will become increasingly rarer & rarer, the specialists that are adapted to specific habitats.

The casual way plastic bottles are discarded along the river banks & directly into the water is staggering. My photographs of Kingfishers on this trip were all set against this backdrop.

One of the ironies that I observed first hand was the sight of an old council worker with a broom & a bin bag, sweeping the dusty road where it passed by the dump. Wouldn’t it be nice if he was paid to look after a thriving nature reserve instead?

Along the coastal strip if land doesn’t have a building on it, it appears to have no value at all, and as such can be abused at will.   

I am not suggesting that there shouldn’t be any hotels there but surely there is room for both the hotels & the wildlife habitat. That’s got to be better than hotels alternating with dumping grounds which is what they have at the moment.

One of the saddest things about all this is that there must be many hotel guests along this strip who would be delighted to see wild Tortoises, Kingfishers, Night Herons, Harriers, dragonflies, butterflies & even the snakes (!) on their doorstep, and that means that there is potentially sound commercial value in looking after these little patches of wild habitat rather than treating them like a dumping ground. Surely it’s a no brainer?

I raised my concerns about this whole issue on the feedback form provide by the hotel we stayed in, (which I hasten to add had no obvious connection to the current destruction of the dunes), and hopefully this article will draw attention to the issue as well.

Pan down this page for images of the wildlife & destruction that I found.  

Further reading:

http://turkeyetc.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/turkeys-wildlife-ignored-and-in-crisis/

http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0328-hance_turkey_biodiversity.html

 

 

First year Spur Thighed Tortoise is unlikely to live as long as it's parents as the dunes disappear around it
The sheer volume of waste being dumped on the dunes is staggering

 

An adult Spur-thighed Tortoise close to the edge of the tidal wave of rubbish that threatens to engulf the dunes
The scene immediately above the tortoise, a ribbon of rubbish heading his way

 

This Hooded Crow was one of the few to take advantage of the sea of dumping

 
 

The massive spur of builders rubble & rubbish cut the small area of remaining stabilised dune in two as it stretched towards the coastal lagoons

A Night Heron perched around the margins of the reedbed & lagoon that is slowly being destroyed

The shameful destruction that is cutting the lagoon in half
This Squacco Heron was also watching from the margins of the doomed lagoon
The spur of rubbish thrusting out across the lagoon, dividing it in two 

 

Woodchat Shrikes were another bird that was hanging on in the remaining sandy habitat

 

Along the river running back towards the hotel this Kingfisher was one of many dodging rafts of discarded plastic bottles

White Spectacled Bulbul