Rescue Center News

Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre?

Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events between 1 July-26 July 2013.

Volunteer news

Many thanks to all the day volunteers for their continued support and hard work. (Many of the day volunteers are taking their holidays now in August, so if you are in Athens an
d want to help out, please contact Pavlo or Nasos at 210-89444444.) Special thanks to the group of volunteers from the Glyfada chapter of Rotaract who have been spending their time in the hot sun sanding and repainting the wagons and other structures.

Turtle News

There were a number of new arrivals, which have kept the volunteers very busy.

  • ʽYiannisʼ arrived on 2 July from Preveza with a head injury.
  • ʽDobladoʼ, a big male, arrived from Chania with serious flipper injuries (caused by being entangled in a fishing line). He was rescued by a local resident, Artemis, who was at the beach, saw the turtle in distress, and dove into the water to get the turtle out. The Chania ARCHELON team got involved to ensure the turtleʼs safe transport to Athens.
  • ʽCalypsoʼ came to the RC from Zakynthos on 10 July 2013. She had been hit by a sailboat in the area between Zakynthos and Kephalonia. The crew reported the accident right away and stayed with the turtle, which was in shock and unable to move, for four hours until the ARCHELON people from the Zakynthos project reached the scene by boat and picked the turtle up. The turtle had no visible injuries, but was sent for a full exam and given first aid treatment. She is doing well and hopefully will be released soon.
  • ʽIoannaʼ arrived from Alexandroupolis with a head injury. She was originally taken to the Aristotle University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, where she received first aid until she could be transported to the RC.
  • ʽLadyʼ is yet another recent arrival with a head injury. She was found in Messolonghi by the ARCHELON research team.
  • ʽDaphneʼ came to the RC from Rio. She had been picked up with the help of Katerina, a volunteer from ANIMA, and the port police; unfortunately, she had serious internal injuries from an ingested hook and died shortly after her arrival.
  • ʽCanellaʼ was also found in Aitoliko by the ARCHELON team working in the tagging program. At the time she was found, they were surprised to find that she had a missing eye and that the remaining eye had a barb from a sting ray embedded in it. The turtle was examined by a local vet, who decided it was best to send her to the RC. Here the barb was removed and the turtle is recovering very fast. She can dive and find food for herself, so hopefully she will be released soon.
  • ʽLuambaʼ is the third turtle found in Messolonghi by the ARCHELON research team. She had a quite bad carapace injury (probably caused by a boat strike), but luckily her lung seems to be intact. She is doing well at the moment.
  • ʽAlexandrosʼ, who arrived on 22 July from Vonitsa with a light head injury, is doing well. The turtleʼs carapace was totally covered with long, hair-like green algae.
  • ʽAlikiʼ arrived on 23 July from Porto Heli with a severe head injury. She was found by members of a scuba diving club.
  • Demosthenes arrived on 24 July from Aitoliko, another turtle rescued by the research team. He has a fishing line coming out of his mouth and an old carapace injury. Heʼs a large loggerhead male. Heʼs received first aid and will be taken for X-rays shortly.
Besides those turtles who actually arrived at the RC, Pavlo was involved with the rescue of two other turtles:

In Kefalonia, a turtle which appeared to be in shock was rescued by Katelios, a local turtle group and long-time ARCHELON collaborator. The group kept the turtle overnight in a tank for observation prior to transporting it to the RC, and they were pleasantly surprised to find it diving and eating the next morning. She was released.

A very small turtle (as yet unnamed) was found in Volos. It was covered with barnacles and very weak. After all the barnacles were removed by a local volunteer, it was sent to the Aristotle University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for a complete check-up.

Many thanks to everyone who helped rescue and care for these turtles.

There was also some other news. ʽMichaelaʼ, who only recently had started eating food fed to her by hand, has now started to eat food from the bottom of her tank. This is a positive sign that she is recovering from her head injury are doing well and hopefully may be released soon.

The veterinarian was able to remove the small hook embedded in ʽMeniosʼʼ throat without surgery, which means he will recover quickly and can be released soon.

ʽKatherinaʼ had a bigger hook embedded deeper in her esophagus. It was removed while she was under anesthesia but without the need for surgery.

ʽMarcosʼ had his broken flipper (which had been entangled in a fishing line) removed surgically. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, he didnʼt survive. A necropsy will be performed to try to understand what happened.

Finally, there were several releases.

ʽMarinaʼ, who had been treated at the RC since 2007 for flipper and head injuries, was transported to Crete and released in the area where she had been originally found on 19 July. Her rehabilitation and release were happy events for everyone who had been involved with her care.

ʽPenelopeʼ, who had come to the centre from Rhodes on 6 September 2012 with a carapace injury, was released into the Saronic Gulf on 16 July 2013.

ʽSpithasʼ, who arrived at the RC on 24 June 2013 from Volos with an ingested hook, was treated and released on 22 July.

ʽDoraʼ, who arrived at the RC on 2 May 2013 from Corfu with an ingested hook, was treated and released on 22 July 2013. (ʽJuliaʼ, ʽSpithasʼ and ʽDoraʼ were released from two sailing boats, which had been very kindly arranged for by Marianna.)

ʽJuliaʼ, who arrived at the RC on 5 April 2013 from Halkida, Evia with a minor head injury, was treated and released by boat on 22 July.

ʽCalypsoʼ who arrived at the RC on 10 July 2013 from Zakynthos after a collision with a sailing boat, was treated and released from Zakynthos on 24 July (together with Nasos and Judy).

ʽLoukiaʼ, who arrived at the RC on 11 July 2012 from Alonissos with a head injury, was treated and released from Legrena on 4 July 2013. A group of students from the University of Indianapolis, who had worked as volunteers at the RC for several days, also attended the release.

ʽCostasʼ arrived at the RC on 26 August 2010 from Evia with neck and eye injuries. We had attempted to release him on 4 July by beach, but he was brought back to the RC for further observations due to orientation problems. He was successfully released by boat on 25 July.

A very long day

On 25 July, after releasing ʽCostasʼ (see below for details) and stopping by their favorite bakery, the ARCHELON people returned to the RC to celebrate ʽCostasʼʼ release and Jessicaʼs birthday with a barbecue. Halfway through the evening, Pavlo got two phone calls. One was about a turtle attempting to nest at the beach behind the Friendship and Peace Stadium in the Piraeus area. After talking with the port police, RC volunteers visited the site to check it out. The turtle had indeed made two attempts to nest there, but unfortunately the area is unsuitable for nesting anymore. However, this indicates that this female must have emerged from a nest in that area in the past.

The second phone call was from Lefkimi, Corfu, where the port police had found ʽVlassisʼ, a small (50 cm) loggerhead which had a very bad, intentionally-inflicted-by-human-hands head trauma. The turtle was transferred to the main port police station in Corfu town. After much discussion, it was not possible to transport the turtle to Athens since the bus passengers refused to allow the turtle to be put on the bus. The port police were touched by the turtleʼs plight and did everything possible to try to save the turtle. They finally found a truck driver who agreed to take the turtle from Corfu all the way to Athens. Pavlo met the driver at dawn in Eleusina to retrieve the turtle, which was weak and barely alive. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived at the RC, the turtle had died. Many thanks to Vlassis and the other members of the port police, as well as the driver who transported the turtle to Athens, for their help in trying to rescue this turtle.

Just a reminder

Every year during the month of August, the Rescue Centre is closed on Saturdays and Sundays so that maintenance tasks can be done. Sometimes special arrangements can be made for groups or visitors from outside the Athens area who may be in Glyfada during August. For more information, please call 210-89444444 or 210-5231342.

Did you know...

It takes from 12-20 years for Caretta caretta sea turtles to become mature enough to reproduce. While female turtles produce a lot of eggs each year, only 1-2 out of 1000 hatchlings will manage to survive natural predators and natural processes long enough to reach adulthood. This number is further affected by human factors, such as destruction of nesting beaches, sea pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, etc. So while it may seem that there are lots of sea turtles around today, their numbers will be greatly diminished in the not-too-distant future if the nesting beaches arenʼt protected.

(The June 2013 Teacherʼs Toolbox activity Sea Turtles in Numbers (in English) designed for students focuses on this issue. You might want to check it out – either for yourself or for a young person you know. http://www.archelon.gr/eng/aggogi_Toolbox.php?row=row6)

Joanne Stournara


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