Dalyan has become famous suddenly in the world in 1987. Because, the Iztuzu Coast is the breeding place for Caretta Caretta Turtles. Hotels were planned to be built in the region. By the efforts of nature lovers the region was opened to the public on condition of building prefabricated facilities and the region was declared as a special protected area.
The people of Caunos us 12 km. from the centre of Dalyan lies the five km long sandbar that juts out from the main land into the Mediterranean. This site was earmarked for development until it was one of the last nesting grounds for the endangered Loggerhead Turtle.
Visiting times to the beach are restricted May-September when the Turtles are nesting. From 08.00-18.00 are the open times so as not to interfere with the nesting habits of these Turtles. Sun beds and shade are available at the beach for a small charge also cold drinks and snacks are served throughout the day. You can reach Iztuzu Beach by boat or by car. The boat goes down the channel, through the rustling reeds to the open tip of the beach. By car it takes 15 minutes to the beach and the boat will take approximately 30 minutes.
In the olden days, during the phase of the Dalaman River's delta formation hard-soiled part, which was between Bozburun and Gökbel Mountain, and the point where Dalyan stream reached the sea, turned into a coast with a length of 6 km.
According to geographers, the coast is hard soil mass, which was developed in laguner environment. Iztuzu is a peninsula, a part of which is covered by the sea and the other part is surrounded by the rivers. The coast formed its present shape in the 500 BC. At that time, Dalaman River changed its bed because of the overflow of its former bed. By this way, the region didn't fill with water.
The name Iztuzu comes from salt, which was produced in antique period. There is Iztuzu Lake on the Gökbel Mountain. Iztuzu is a resting place between Sarigerme and Marmaris and the entrance of Caunos . You can reach the coast from the Gökbel Mountain. There are wharfs for those who come by sea and car parks for those who come by road.
There's a pine forest in front of the coast. Prefabricated facilities, which are in harmony with nature, are available and there are some warning signs and stakes near the sea. These stakes show the breeding area of turtles. There are also other regulations protecting these turtles.
There's a small island a bit further away from the Iztuzu coast. The island is likened to a hole because of its shape. The island is to do with the geographic formation. The island blocks strong wind, and the part of the island facing the coast is very shallow. The environment of the island is a shelter for yatchs and boats. This island is very important for the geographic formation of the region. Delik Ada controls the entrance of the river and blocks wind ed Iztuzu as a harbor in old times.
The beach is 5400 m long and there is no construction allowed except for the changing cabins. Also, in order to avoid any possible damage to the Caretta carettas eggs, dogs are not allowed on the beach, and at certain points, it is prohibited to place an umbrella.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta Caretta)
Today there are 385.000 hectares of protected land in Turkey, 38.500 hectars are in Dalyan. Here, there is Iztuzu Beach where the Loggerhead Turtle, Careta Caretta come to nest. The Loggerhead Turtle is designated as threatened on the Federal Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species List. These Turtles with their large heads , (the name Loggerhead comes from the fact that they have oversized heads), and reddish brown shells, come to Iztuzu Beach to nest from May-September. They have yellowish to white undersides and can measure up to three- four feet in length. These Turtles are air-breathing reptiles, which have a special gland that allows them to drink seawater.
The waters in which they live are sub-tropical with temperatures between 6-20 degrees centigrade, usually in bays, estuaries, lagoons or the mouths of large rivers. In temperatures lower than this they become stunned and drift helplessly.
The Loggerhead Turtle reaches maturity around 16 years of age; they can weigh between 150 and 300 pounds. Their diet consists mainy of Jellyfish, Molluscs and Crustaceans.
The Caretta Caretta is a kind of bulky turtles living in the Mediterranean. The Caretta Carettas are about to extinct in all Mediterranean countries except Anatolia. In Turkey, the breeding region of the Caretta Caretta is the coastline between Dalyan and Anamur, and the most important place is the Dalyan-Iztuzu coast.
Because, when nesting density(nests/km) is regarded, annual nesting number in the region is about 250. So the importance of Dalyan and the Caretta Caretta can be understood better. Two different kinds of turtles reach the coast to lay eggs and when the female lays her eggs, she seems to look like she is crying; she is in fact flushing out sand and excess salt from her eyes. The salt comes from the gland that enables her to drink sea water.
The most dangerous animals for turtles are crabs, jackals and wolfs. Because of these dangers most Caretta Caretta Turtles die before adolescence.
That's why, some regultions are being carried out to protect them by the assossiation for the protection. For example, some stakes and warning signs were placed near the sea of the Iztuzu coast for the purpose of a better breeding of these animals. rivers and shores were closed to passangers and vehicle traffic.
A huge statue, which was erected in the center of Dalyan is the expression of Dalyan people's gratitute to Caretta Caretta Turtles which made known the region to the world
The natural water conduit connects the sea and the lake. The town of Dalyan is near the lake and the antiqe city of Kaunos is on the opposite bank of the water conduit. The sides of the river are covered with reeds. The lenght of the reeds is about one or two metres. This makes the river excursion a mystical and exciting adventure. Reeds not only clean the water but also are shelters for fish. At the same time reeds prevent erosion, bad odour and dirtiness. They are the filters of this labyrinth.
When you come to Dalyan, you surely must take a boat tour. You certainly can not find an answer to the question “how does it feel to be in nature?” until you take in the breathtaking view of the Dalyan Delta or the magic of the rush that makes you feel like you are in a gigantic labyrinth or wandering on a world map.
When moving along the rush, the grandness of the steep rocks is the proof of the nature's generosity. The multicolored bird that appears suddenly and demonstrates a nice show on “how to catch fish” with its long rostrum is the kingfisher. Many observers from different parts of the world come to Dalyan to see rare birds, and birds such as this.
For the ecological balance, speed boats and the boats which are longer than 12 m are forbidden to enter the river. Maximum speed for the boats in the river is 5 miles. The Dalyan stream connects the Köycegiz Lake to the Mediterranean with a narrow river. This connection river is generally 30m. in width depending on the precipitation and ebb and flow. On the opposite bank of this narrow river the Delik Island is situated.