'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!', Wanderings

Blue Heaven

oldest chewing gumIt’s more than two years ago since that class travel and blogging act Natalie Sayın sent me a photograph attached to a ‘what’s this?’ Now, Natalie has some seriously good camera skills, but this pic looked like a lump of ancient, peppermint flavoured chewing gum stuck on a rock! (I know about these things and att a photo of the oldest bit of chewing gum ever found – it’s from Finland and is about 5000 years old complete with Neolithic teeth marks!)

Anyway, Nat’s photo looked a bit like a Carpathian Blue Slug – Bielzia coerulans, a creature that is supposed to live up to its name and stay in the Carpathian Mountains where it is described as endemic. I sent a copy of the photo and location to my good mate Murat who has made such creatures the study and passion of a lifetime. He also works out of the Dept. of Malacology at Harvard University, it’s safe to assume that he knows about these things!

Such was our joint excitement at Natalie’s find that we decided to mount a field trip to the area between Çamlıhemşim and the Ayder plateau to see if we couldn’t find some more lumps of chewing gum.

We were expecting to do a lot of scrabbling about under rocks and bushes before we got a result – if we got a result at all! It didn’t quite work out as expected. Shortly after we picked Murat up from the airport and brought him to our hotel the four of us, Murat and E, J and I went for a leg-stretch to explore Çamlıhemşim. With a population of 1500 and one street it didn’t take long! The town sits in a bit of a ravine – it’s vertical rock face; retaining wall; narrow street; row of shops/houses; river; vertical rock face!

Carpathian Blue Slug - Bielzia coerulans habitat Camlihemsin Rize Turkey

photo by ESR

We stopped to admire a flowering shrub growing out of the retaining wall when Murat said ‘Hey, look at this!’ and there they were – Blue Slugs – adults and juveniles! So much for the intrepid search for an elusive species that shouldn’t be there.

Carpathian Blue Slug - Bielzia coerulans adult

Carpathian Blue Slug - Bielzia coerulans juvenile

Carpathian Blue Slug – Bielzia coerulans adult and juvenile

Later, we tracked down the route that Natalie had taken when she saw that first lump of chewing gum. The walk to Tar Deresi Şelalesi (waterfall) is a very pleasurable one and the waterfall itself is spectacular.

Tar Deresi Waterfall

Carpathian Blue Slug - Bielzia coerulans

Carpathian Blue Slug - Bielzia coerulans

Natalie had said that she saw her slug near to the waterfall and right on cue two were spotted and photographed. We saw a couple more near some rubbish bins in Çamlıhemşim but although we spent time searching other likely and unlikely places that was the extent of our finds. We spent the rest of our time exploring winding back roads, soaking in hot springs, eating fine village and roadside food and enjoying being together in a still beautiful part of Turkey.

Kackar Mountains

Kackar trio

J and me and E

dog foodthis was for the dog (seriously) – it tasted great! (pic by ESR)

finally, something completely different

slug trip

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü



23 thoughts on “Blue Heaven

  1. Really lovely photos, A and J, particularly the pie for the dog. But then again, we ARE (senior) dogs. So glad you attained your goal and saw these wonderful slugs and took great pics too! What a lovely, successful trip. Bravo. xo J and M
    seniordogs recently posted..Dry Winter, Silent SpringMy Profile

    1. . . very satisfying in many ways. The ‘pie’ is a sort of loaf – I was very disappointed that we didn’t get any with our meal so asked for a chunk – it was delicious and very crusty – lucky Kangal!
      Alan recently posted..Happy Ever AfterMy Profile

  2. Nice work, Alan… fascinating. How close is the digital blue to the natural light blue? I suspect that the natural light blue is difficult to capture accurately, similar to morning glory flowers. Our binocular vision of color is always slightly different from the monocular camera.
    Any way, very nice! 🙂

    1. the colours are pretty good! Some slugs are a delicate powder blue whilst others are the intense blue-black that you see. There are also completely black versions although we didn’t see any of these. Janet has great fun using first her 70 year-old eye and then her new artificial lens – she says the differences are amazing – use both together and ‘Bingo!’ all is ‘normal’.
      Alan recently posted..Iran Life – Zein-o-din CaravanseraiMy Profile

  3. My brain must be a little SLUGgish today… I was having a hard time seeing the similarity between Natalie’s photo and your slugs… until I reread the part about the chewing gum. Eeesh… where’s my caffeine??
    Bobbi recently posted..Side trip: Southwest KoreaMy Profile

  4. Emma and I have been fascinated with the blue slug – Mark is washing daddy’s car and we’ll treat him to this after his job!- amazing photos as always. Black Sea region always fascinates me, thanks for sharing! – oh, and here comes Mark! and says “that’s cool! can we find it in Bodrum?!” Cok selamlar- time to pack for Istanbul!
    Ozlem’s Turkish Table recently posted..Baklava, Revani, Kunefe and More; Desserts for the End of RamadanMy Profile

    1. . . now that really is interesting – I’ve been searching and can find no reference to any recording/report from there. Having confirmed them here in Turkey, more that 1200kms from the previously most southerly sighting, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ll pass this on to our man at Harvard, meanwhile, if you can supply any further info or contacts I’d appreciate that.
      Alan recently posted..Iran Life – What A ReliefMy Profile

  5. Oh I wish I’d taken photos. It was in July 2012 when I was in Sweden for 5 weeks during an amazingly wet summer. My teak deck was covered with slugs every morning. So much so that it was difficult to walk across because it was so slimey. Some of the slugs were an iridescent blue/black . They also seems to have a frill on them, a bit like the skirt of a hovercraft. Does this make sense? I won’t be back there until next year, but let’s hope it’s a wet one and I’ll take photos. It was so hot this year, I didn’t see one slug or snail.
    BacktoBodrum recently posted..Vegetable SpaghettiMy Profile

    1. OK – got a probable id for you Milax gagates common name is Greenhouse Slug. A medium-sized, bluish-grey to brown or nearly black slug with same-colour or darker keel running from the mantle to the tail. Very common in Sweden (so they say!) Annie thank you for the feedback.
      Alan recently posted..Blue HeavenMy Profile

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