Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre in December?
Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events from 1 December 2014-11 January 2015.
Number of turtles currently being treated: 24
All the turtles are doing relatively well, thanks to the mild temperatures of the sea water in their tanks – the temperatures are above average for this time of year, even despite the recent cold weather.
Unfortunately, there were six new arrivals, three of which had severe head injuries caused by intentional human action.
ʽChrissoulaʼ, a Caretta caretta with a 73-cm long carapace and who weighs 44 kilos, arrived at the RC on 15 December from Aidipsos (Evia). She has a head injury which had been deliberately inflicted by human action. Her condition is stable at the moment.
ʽAristidesʼ, a Caretta caretta weighing just 13 kilos, arrived at the RC on 21 December 2014 from the nearby Alimos Marina. An amateur fisherman called to report that he had seen a turtle which looked ill or injured. The port police helped and found the turtle, which had no visible injuries or hooks and most likely was suffering from hypothermia. He is recovering, but still not eating by himself and has to be tube fed.
ʽSheilaʼ, a Caretta caretta whose carapace is 73 cm long and who weighs 41.5 kilos, was found stranded on the beach at Kissamos (Crete) by an English resident. The turtle has a head injury which had been deliberately caused by human action. Several people took part in her rescue, and she was collected in Pireaus on 22 December 2014 by Nasos Dimakis since Pavlos was away at that time.
ʽZachariasʼ, a 59-cm, 10-kilo Caretta caretta with a head injury deliberated caused by human action, was rescued offshore of Evia by a fisherman. He arrived at the RC on 2 January 2015, the first injured turtle to arrive in the new year.
ʽYiannisʼ (not to be confused with the turtle of the same name who was rehabilitated and released in Naxos recently) is a small Caretta caretta with an ingested hook. He arrived at the RC on 6 January from Samos. The small turtle, whose carapace measures 32.5 cm and who weighs only 3.2 kilos, was found by a local resident, who reported it to the port police; in turn, they contacted the organization Archipelagos, who then collected the turtle and arranged for him to be sent to Athens. During his long trip to Athens, he was kindly looked after by a member of the ferry boat crew called Yiannis. Immediately upon his arrival, he was X-rayed to confirm the presence of the hook, which was removed later that same day. He is getting rehydration therapy, and hopefully he will start eating by himself soon.
ʽChristianaʼ, (a Caretta caretta with a 76-cm long carapace and who weighs 52 kilos), was found stranded on the beach by a resident in Corfu. The port police were contacted, and they picked up the turtle and arranged for its transfer to the RC, where she arrived on 8 January. She was covered in algae and silt, indicating that she might have been wintering in the area. She has no visible injuries and is most likely suffering from hypothermia. She was cleaned up and placed in a tank with warm water to help her recover.
Many thanks to all the people involved in rescuing these six turtles!
Unfortunately, two turtles died as a result of the severe head injuries which had been inflicted on them, and coincidentally, both died on the same day, 21 December 2014.
ʽIoachimʼ, a small green turtle (whose carapace was only 31cm long and who weighed only 2.4 kilos), had been found near Rafina on 16 November. His injury was so severe that he had never had much chance to survive from the start.
ʽMelinaʼ, who had come from Corfu on 29 October with a severe head injury, died as a result of it. Her intestines had stopped working, leading her to become weaker and unable to breath.
Four more turtles which had recovered from their injuries were released:
ʽPavloʼ, the turtle who found himself back at the RC after being released on 25 July and having made it all the way to Crete, was released again by boat on 11 December. ʽPavloʼ had originally been treated at the RC because someone had driven a 15-cm nail deep into his head. (Yes, thatʼs correct – someone had driven a 15-cm nail into the turtleʼs head.) The nail (which fortunately had not hit his brain) was removed, after which he received months of care by RC volunteers before his first release.
Despite his severe injuries, the turtle always fought to survive and succeeded. More than three months after his initial release into the Saronic Bay in July, he was sighted swimming off the coast of Crete; because of the ID tag on his flipper, he was picked up and returned to the RC, where after a thorough examination and short observation period, he was judged to be in good health and able to swim, dive and eat well and ready to continue his life in the sea.
ʽChronosʼ, the largest turtle treated at the RC in 2014 (with a 90.5 cm-long carapace and weighing 88 kilos), was released from Cephalonia – the place where he had originally come from – on 20 December. He had ingested two small hooks, which had been moving steadily down through his intestinal track to a point from which they will be eliminated naturally.
ʽMorfoulaʼ was released on 20 December offshore from Glyfada. She had come from Sifnos. Many thanks to a local speedboat instructor for making this release by sea possible.
ʽMarilenaʼ was released on 11 December. She had originally come to the RC on 18 July from Anavyssos after having been found with an ingested hook and line by tourists. They removed the hook and she was sent to the RC, where the line was eliminated naturally.
A group of eco-tourists from Canada were in Greece for ten days. Besides visiting our country and several environmental / animal welfare organizations, they helped out at the RC. Many thanks to them for all their support. The volunteers did a lot of jobs at the RC, including helping to care for the turtles, beach cleanup, and office work.
Did you know...
Being cold-blooded reptiles, sea turtles need warm water temperatures to survive. During the winter months, some sea turtles migrate to warmer areas, while others ʽdig inʼ for the winter in the area where they normally live. They conserve energy and keep warm by remaining inactive for long periods on the sea floor, where the water temperature is more stable. They do not look around for food or swim to the surface very often during this period, and as a result their carapaces can become covered with a layer of mud or algae and barnacles. If conditions get too cold, the turtles can be in danger. As mentioned above, two of the turtles which arrived at the RC this month were suffering from a form of hypothermia called ʽcold-stunningʼ. There are a lot of articles about this on the internet – search for ʽsea turtles winterʼ, for example.
How you can help the turtles at the Rescue Centre:
Visit the RC during the hours itʼs open to the public (every Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) to see and learn about the turtles and the work being done there.
Make a donation online. http://www.archelon.gr/eng/donations.php
If you are a teacher, arrange for a class field trip to the RC. Book at 210-52 31 342. You can also use the free downloadable activities available from the Teacherʼs Toolbox page of the ARCHELON website. http://www.archelon.gr/eng/aggogi_Toolbox.php?row=row6
Volunteer to help out several hours a week at the RC. (Contact RC Co-ordinator Pavlos Tsaros at 69728779626972877962.) If you are a Greek speaker, you can join our new Greek volunteer group. Come and help us spread the word!
Donations of food for the turtles and medical supplies can be dropped off at the RC (get more information about this here). http://www.archelon.gr/eng/pedio_rescue.php?row=row5
Adopt or sponsor a turtle (either at the Rescue Centre or online at http://www.archelon.gr/eng/sponsoreaturtle.php?row=row9)