Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre (January 2016)?
Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events from 1-31 January 2016.
Although there usually aren’t many arrivals of injured turtles during the winter months (except for those suffering from hypothermia), this month seemed to follow the same pattern as the rest of the unusual, violent events taking place all over the planet.
Turtles currently being treated: 23
This is a challenging number of turtles to care for during the winter months. The main problem is keeping the water in all the tanks at the proper temperature: Since turtles are cold-blooded like all reptiles, they cannot regulate their body temperature and are adversely affected by the cold.
‘Kasjpy’, a Caretta carretta (carapace length 66 cm, weight 32 kilos), arrived from Poros on 3 January 2016. She was bleeding from her mouth and about 20 cm of ingested fishing line was hanging out of it. The X-ray didn’t show any ingested hook, so the veterinarian gently tried to pull out some of the line by hand. About 2.7 meters of line was removed, but there is still more inside. Ingested fishing line is one of the most dangerous types of injuries for a sea turtle since the line can seriously damage a turtle’s internal organs and digestive track. She is being given special pharmaceutical oil to help her pass the remaining line naturally, if possible.
On 9 January 2016, a severely injured loggerhead arrived at the RC from Nafplio. The turtle had been the victim of a brutal attack by someone: her jaw was smashed and dislocated, and she had a long knife cut down her plastron, with several broken plastron pieces from stab wounds. Because the turtle was still alive, she was transported to the RC in the hope that something could be done to ease her suffering. Unfortunately, she died shortly after her arrival. A video reporting this incident and showing the turtle was filmed and posted online by a local news station and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9dS5fFkOfw (WARNING: the pictures are quite graphic!)
On 16 January 2016, ‘Niki’, a loggerhead (carapace length 21.3 cm, weight 1.5 kilos) was brought to the RC by a family who had found her washed ashore onto nearby Voula Beach. The turtle had visible injuries on her front left flipper and her plastron, possibly due to being thrown against the rocks by the waves. The turtle seemed to be suffering from hypothermia, and X-rays revealed that all her flippers were broken. Unfortunately, she would not eat and her small size added to her problems. She died on 22 January 2016.
On 17 January 2016, ‘BabyIon’, a small loggerhead (carapace length 29.2 cm, weight 4.5 kilos), was brought to the RC from Sounion by local residents who found him on the beach. He is also being treated for hypothermia. Besides some scratches on his plastron probably caused by being thrown against rocks by the waves, X-rays showed that he had a broken front flipper. The turtle will safely spend the winter in a warm tank in the RC intensive care unit until his injuries and flipper heal and he can be released.
‘Iaso’ arrived at the RC on 18 January from Preveza. He is a small green turtle (carapace length 26.8, weight 3 kilos). The turtle has a minor head injury, but X-rays show that he is suffering from shell compaction (which means his stomach is filled with sand and shells). Hopefully he will recover his health and will be able to be released this summer.
On 21 January 2016, another turtle which had been found on the same beach in Nafplio as the unfortunate turtle found on 9 January, arrived at the RC. This turtle had similar injuries on its plastron: A long, deep cut down the whole length of it. The turtle had lost a lot of blood, and some of its internal organs were coming out from the cut. After examining the turtle, the veterinarian concluded that unfortunately nothing could be done to save it, and it passed away the night of 22 January. As with the first turtle, this incident was recorded and posted online: http://www.zougla.gr/perivallon/article/nafplio-epixirisi-diasosis-travmatismenis-8alasias-xelonas (WARNING: the pictures are quite graphic!)
On 30 January 2016, ‘Artemis’ a Caretta caretta (carapace length of 56 cm and weighing 49 kilos), arrived at the RC. She had been seen swimming in the area near the island of Farmakonisi by the port police while they were patrolling the waters around the uninhabited island in order to pick up and transport refugees who had landed there. On one of their trips to rescue stranded refugees, the port police found the turtle washed up on the beach, and transported her (along with the rescued refugees) to the island of Leros. She spent two days on Leros under the care of the local veterinarian, Dr Michalis Kontrafouris. Because of the port workers’ strike, there was no boat available to bring her to Athens. Dr Kontrafouris was in constant contact with the Rescue Centre staff in Glyfada, and he personally arranged with the management of Aegean Airlines on Leros to transport the turtle to Athens on the next flight. Here in Athens, X-rays of the turtle show that her lungs have a problem, and that she is most likely suffering from pneumonia, for which she is being treated. She is becoming more active, which is a good sign. To see a news report of this rescue, see http://www.antenna.gr/webtv/watch?cid=h/_nu_qhx_uj8s=
We would like to thank all the caring people from all over Greece who helped rescue and transport these turtles!
If you have a few hours of free time each week and are interested in volunteering to help save sea turtles, please contact Yiannis or Polymnia at the RC at 6941 511 511. There is an official ARCHELON volunteer group, which meets regularly to help plan events, to talk about issues... and to relax and have fun.
Did you know...
Besides all the other dangers that sea turtles face, a new one has been brought to light by a team of researchers from Duke University, the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): pollution around the Hawaiian islands caused by high levels of nitrates from agricultural runoff is causing lethal tumors in the endangered sea turtle population. For more information and photos, see