Friday, November 20, 2009

Turkey - Dalyan River

On the 10th day of my trip to Turkey in September, we disembarked from our gulet and drove to Dalyan, an environmentally protected area where we took a small skiff through an amazing maze of channels south toward the Mediterranean. Along the route we saw 4th c. a.d. Lycian rock cut tombs and wonderful natural life. Wikepedia explains the area:
Dalyan is a town in Muğla Province located between the well-known districts of Marmaris and Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey. The town is an independent municipality, within the administrative district of Ortaca.

Dalyan achieved international fame in 1986 when developers wanted to build a luxury hotel on the nearby İztuzu Beach, a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle species. The incident created major international storm when David Bellamy championed the cause of the conservationists. The development project was stopped and the beach is now a protected area.

Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çayı River which flows past the town. The boats that ply up and down the river, navigating the maze of reeds, are the preferred means of transport to all the local sites.

Dalyan means "fishing weir" in Turkish. Bass, Mullet and Sea Bream swim upstream from the sea to Köyceğiz Lake where another large town of the region, Köyceğiz, is located. The fish spawn there, and when returning to the sea they are caught in the "dalyans".

In addition to its attraction as a tourist destination, the region around Dalyan is a highly fertile and productive agricultural zone. Cotton is grown intensively as well as many varieties of fruits and vegetables which are all on display in the market on Saturdays, the day when villagers come from miles around to sell their products.

Above the river's sheer cliffs are the weathered façades of Lycian tombs cut from rock, circa 400 AC. The ruins of the ancient trading city of Kaunos are a short boat trip across the river.

The south of Dalyan on the Mediterranean coast, lies İztuzu Beach, near the village of the same name is a popular area for sunbathing and swimming. There are regular boat and minibus (dolmuş) services to the beach. Visitors should be aware of the wooden stakes in the beach to mark nesting sites. The road route is particularly scenic, offering views of Sülüngür Lake. Iztuzu, Dalyan's turtle beach, was voted the best beach in the world in 1995.

The beach is well known for the Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtles) which have existed for 95 million years. International animal protection organizations monitor and protect the turtles' nesting grounds in Turkey.[1] The beach is closed during the period of time that the Turtles lay their eggs. On the other side of the beach, lesser known and lesser protected turtles which are illegally fed and coaxed into the river, which has a small salt content (dalyan), and therefore these turtles have to adapt. Fortunately few turtle deaths have ever occurred.

The slideshow here allows you to follow our route.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Qatar Marshes

Despite the fact that Qatar is a very sandy, beige peninsula, there are a handful of coastal marshes that are particularly verdent in the spring. I went to one south of Doha recently that consists mainaly of mangroves and arthrocnemum shrubs. Apparently in spring there are yellow desert hyacinth and sea lavender blossoms. According to a very brief article in the Peninsula on July 18 of this year, for bird lovers flocks of flamingos feed on crustacaens, and fish eagles, spoon bills, ibis, kestrrels, herons, sand grouse, bulbuls and hoopoes abound. But, as the article warns, you must be there early and be very patient.

A slide show of marsh images can be found here.

Just inland from the marsh was a large flock of camels who were calmly grazing and resting until a caravan of landcruisers swept through, throwing up dust and and causing the camels to run, following the route of the caravan. Perhaps they anticipated food at the end but more likely were simply disturbed by the activity. Images of this show can be found here.