Local boat owners agree that the mass of underwater growth fouling their hulls in Fethiye Bay is among the worst in the world, I have always blamed the water conditions on the chemical run-off from the intensive farming in the vicinity and sewage influx. Then I was very surprised to learn that Turkey is the largest producer of farmed Rainbow trout in Europe. An aquaculture survey of 3 trout farms in the Xanthos valley provides some interesting reading including the fact that there are more than 50 trout farms in our catchment and a significant ammount of water is fed, via a canal and hydro electric power station, directly into the sea at Fethiye. The main purpose of the survey is “to predict the existing and future discharge of suspended solids, organic compounds, and nutrients, thereby allowing authorities to quantify the environmental impacts of activities with the greatest accuracy (Frier et al. 1995)”. I have estimated from this report that this means over 2000 tons of Nitrogen and 400 tons of Phosphorous are discharged every year. When you factor in the sunshine and shallow water it’s no wonder we have a problem with algae!
Some time last year a local official, commenting on the dredging and bank work being carried out at the time in Çalıs, said “Soon this will be the New Venice!” I suspect he’d never been, maybe he’d heard that people visited Venice for the canals and thought we’ve got one of those here, maybe not. Well, the thick groves of rushes and bamboo have regrown along the canal banks, the frogs and fish, the egrets and kingfishers have returned, and while not exactly Venice it does have a charm of it’s own. I recalled his comment and raked out an old photo of the real thing for some indoor inspiration in the heat of midsummer.
The Fırtına Valley which runs through the heart of Çamlıhemşin is spanned by the Ottoman-era Fırtına River bridges. The valley ıs located near Rize in the far north east of Turkey. Çamlıhemşin is high in the valley, which leads down to the Black Sea coast, and is an important access point to the Kaçkar range whose high mountains poke up into the clouds. Fırtına means Storm and although it rains here all year round, temperatures can fall to minus 7°C in winter and reach 25°C in summer. However the countryside is a gorgeous mix of meadows and valleys and in recent years the district has begun to attract touristsö especıally people on trekking holidays in the Kaçkar. Çamlıhemşin is a low-income district and people live from forestry, beekeeping or herding animals.
Today I took Daisy, our new boat, out in the bay for our first sail and despite a few butterflies to start we had a great time getting to know her. During the trial, some more small jobs became evident and that will keep me from the easel a little longer than planned. So tonight I fell back onto one of my favourite subjects. Rivers are an endless source of delight and inspiration to me and despite the demands of Daisy, my new mistress, I managed to produce this painting.