Our volunteer at the Rescue Center Joanne Stournara updates us on the events in September 2017.
‘And when the day arrives I'll become the sky and I'll become the sea and the sea will come to kiss me for I am going home. Nothing can stop me now.’ Trent Reznor
The month of September 2017 was a very tragic month for the ARCHELON Rescue Center: Pavlos Tsaros, the Rescue Network Co-ordinator, passed away, leaving his many friends in the international sea turtle community shocked and grieving. A separate tribute to Pav appears on Facebook, and an article has been written and posted on the official ARCHELON website. Pav’s funeral was held on his home island of Limnos – I am mentioning this because of an unusual ‘event’ which I will describe below.
I could say much more about Pav and what he meant to the RC, but it would not be appropriate in this report. I’ll just say that Pav will always remain close to those he inspired and who loved him.
It’s important to mention that the ARCHELON RC Volunteers, both those from abroad and local volunteers, quickly banned together to care for the turtles in a way that Pav would be proud of. Thank you all so much! A formal announcement about the new Rescue Network Co-ordinator will be made shortly by ARCHELON.
Also in September, an oil transport ship sank in the Saronic Gulf, resulting in huge quantities of petroleum being dumped into the sea. The oil spill reached from Salamina to Glyfada, with some reports of oil being found as far south as Lagonissi. The RC Director Dimitris Fytilis contacted and met with representatives of the Environmental and Maritime Industries regarding the need to urgently protect the RC area from the oil. (For an article about this (in Greek only) see the official government website http://www.hcg.gr/node/16022. Fortunately, the system used at the RC for pumping and circulating sea water into the turtle’s tanks was capable of filtering out the oil, and measures were taken by the authorities to block oil from entering the area close to the RC.
It’s also worth noting that not one sea turtle was reported as having been affected by the oil spill! Since we often get reports of dead or injured turtles from the Salamina area, this was wonderful (and to me, surprising) news.
Many thanks to all the volunteers for their dedication and hard work during this difficult month.
On 2 September 2017, ‘Sofaki 17’, a small green turtle, arrived at the RC from Kranidiou (Ermioni). The tiny turtle, whose carapace measures 29 cm and weighs only 2.5 kilos, has a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action. The turtle is not interested in eating and will be tube fed. She is already receiving antibiotics, drips and vitamins.
‘Alkyoni 17’ arrived at the RC on 3 September 2017. Part of her back right flipper was missing, and she had an ingested hook visible in her mouth. Fortunately, the hook could easily be removed without surgery. ‘Alkyoni-17’ was treated with antibiotics, drips, and vitamins, and is eating on her own. She is a candidate for release this year!
‘Sotiris 17’ was rescued on Paros on 3 September 2017 by members of the Paros Diving Club. The turtle was found swimming in shallow water in Golden Beach. His carapace was badly broken due to a collision with a boat propeller. The loggerhead is receiving for his injuries and wound, and they are healing. The turtle has a good appetite, but has to be handfed since he is unable to dive. Many thanks to Paros Divers, Golden Beach Surf Club, the Paros Port police, the Naxos Diving Center, and Yiannis Orfanos of the Naxos Wildlife Protection Society for their work in rescuing, caring for, and arranging transport for the turtle to the RC. For more pictures and information, see Paros Divers FB page.
On 10 September 2017, a large male loggerhead arrived at the RC and was named ‘Pavlos 17’ in honour of Pavlo Tsaros. The adult male loggerhead, whose carapace length is 79 cm and who weighs 58 kilos, was found in Amorgos. The turtle had been brutally injured by deliberate human action: a hole had been punched in the side of his head with an unknown instrument, and he had a huge stab wound in his neck. The wound was so large and deep that most of the veterinarian’s hand could fit inside it while she was examining the wound! Besides those horrific injuries, both his eyes were badly swollen. He is responding well to the medical treatment: the stab wound has closed up quite a bit, and his left eye is no longer swollen. It is too early to tell what the outcome will be.
And now for an unusual turtle arrival story. On the morning of 18 September 2017, some friends and family of Pav who had attended his funeral were walking on St. Pavlos Beach in Myrinas, Limnos (yes, that is really the name of the beach!), before they returned to Athens. They discovered a severely injured female loggerhead, named ‘Myrina 17’, suffering from a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action. The turtle was given first aid and escorted to the RC by Pav’s ARCHELON friends. ‘Myrina 17’s’ injuries are very severe, and her plastron is soft, which is not a good sign. She remains on the surface of her tank and is not interested in eating, so she will have to be tube fed. It is too early to tell what the outcome will be.
‘Vaggelis 17’ arrived from Naxos on 20 September 2017. The loggerhead weighs 14.5 kilos and his carapace is 50 cm long. The turtle had a small hook embedded in his front left flipper, which was removed without surgery, and he is receiving treatment. However, he also had ingested fishing line, which could be seen coming out of his mouth – this is the real danger to the turtle because ingested line can cause internal injuries. The turtle was rescued by members of the Naxos Wildlife Protection Society. For photos and more information, see the article at https://www.zoosos.gr/naksos-esosan-ti-thalassia-chelona-caretta-caretta-pou-eiche-katapiei-petonia/#axzz4sxAZkd8E.
‘Sylvan 17’ arrived on 23 September 17 from Zakynthos. The male loggerhead, whose carapace is 71cm long and who weighs 32.5 kilos, was found (and named after) one of the volunteers on the ARCHELON Zakynthos field team. The turtle was very emaciated, with a head injury and fishing line coming out of his cloaca, a plastron injury, and an old injury on his cloaca. His plastron is very soft, which is not a good sign. The turtle is receiving medications and wound treatment.
‘Agapi 17’, a loggerhead whose carapace length is 47.5cm and who weighs 19 kilos, arrived from Chania on 29 September 17. The turtle had a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action, and a flipper injury. Because his flipper was entangled with fishing line, part of it was lost. Hopefully, the rest of the flipper can be saved. The turtle is receiving medications and wound treatment.
We are happy to report that 10 turtles who had been treated at the RC were successfully rehabilitated and released back into the sea!
‘Iris 16’ had arrived from Lefkimmi (Corfu) on 14 October 2016 with a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action. The loggerhead was successfully rehabilitated and released by boat into the Saronic Bay on 1 September 2017.
‘Maria 17’, a loggerhead who had arrived on 25 May 2017 from Sagiada with a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action, was released by boat into the Saronic Bay on 1 September 2017.
‘Elpida 16’ had been rescued by members of the ARCHELON field team working in Chania. She arrived at the RC on 1 September 2016 with injuries to her two front flippers caused by entanglement with fishing line. She recovered her health and was released on 1 September 2017 by boat into the Saronic Bay.
‘Avra 17’, a female loggerhead suffering from hypothermia, had arrived at the RC on 3 February 2017 from Thessaloniki. She recovered her health and was released by beach into the Saronic Bay on 8 September 2017.
‘Nichta 17’, a loggerhead who had arrived at the RC from Patra on 5 May 2017 with a head injury deliberately inflicted by human action, was released by beach into the Saronic Bay on 9 September 2017.
‘Nileas 17’ had arrived on 5 May 2017 from Romanos (Messinia) with a flipper injury caused by entanglement with fishing line. The male loggerhead was successfully rehabilitated and released by boat on 24 September 2017, in honour of Pavlos Tsaros.
‘Haroula 17’, a loggerhead with a head injury directly caused by human action, had arrived at the RC on 6 June 2017 from Alonnissi. She was successfully rehabilitated and released by boat from Costa Navarino Beach on 24 September 2017, in honour of Pavlos Tsaros.
‘Bilbo 17’, a male loggerhead who had arrived at the RC on 16 June 2017 from Corfu with flipper injuries, was successfully rehabilitated and released by boat from Costa Navarino Beach on 24 September 2017, in honour of Pavlos Tsaros. (It is worth mentioning that this was Bilbo’s second release from the RC; he had been treated at the RC previously and released into the Saronic Bay. He made his way back to Corfu, and was rescued a second time by the team at Corfu Wildlife Sense.)
‘Syra 17’, a female loggerhead with a lung infection, arrived at the RC on 31 July 2017. She was successfully rehabilitated and released by boat from Costa Navarino Beach on 24 September 2017, in honour of Pavlos Tsaros.
(If you would like to see a video of multiple turtle releases by boat from 2016, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9ik90awJXg)
‘Captain Nelly 17’, a male loggerhead with buoyancy problems, was brought to the RC by Nikos Vallianos and volunteers from the Corfu ‘Wildlife Sense’ society. The turtle had been rescued in Kefalonia on 2 August 2017, received first aid from ‘Wildlife Sense’, and then driven to Athens for further treatment. The turtle recovered its health and was released on 27 September 2017. Because of the oil spill in the Saronic Gulf, the turtle was not released there. Instead, she was released at Kakia Thalassia beach, located on the east coast of the Attica peninsula.
More Good News
We are happy to report that there were no turtle deaths at the RC during September!
Also, ‘Maua 17’ had surgery on 21 September 2017 to remove an ingested hook. The operation was successful, and she is recovering well. Her stitches are being treated to prevent infection, AND at the moment she is able to eat on her own, which is a very positive sign.
Many thanks to all the people, animal conservation groups, rescue center network members, port police, and concerned people who helped rescue and care for these injured turtles.
Did you know...
The sea turtle used as the ARCHELON emblem is based on an ancient coin from the island of Aegina, dating to the mid-6th through mid-5th centuries BCE. The Athens Numismatic Museum has several different styles of turtle coins on display in their collection. (Their official website is http://www.enma.gr/ (Greek only), but you can find information on many sites, for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numismatic_Museum_of_Athens.)
I was surprised to see two musical instruments (something like the traditional Greek bouzouki, only smaller) made from a turtle carapace and plastron on display at the Museum of Greek Folk Music Instruments in Plaka! The turtles were obviously NOT sea turtles, but still... (The Museum does not have its own website, but for information about it, visit http://athensmuseums.net/museum.php?id=6&lang=en.)