Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre?
Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events of the week between 8th and 14th June 2012.
ʽNectariosʼ, a small, 1.9-kilo Caretta caretta, arrived from Crete on 8 June 2012. He has no visible injuries, and his X-rays showed that he had not ingested any foreign objects. He is very weak, and is receiving drips and antibiotics.
ʽStephania Baklavaʼ, a 15 kilo Caretta caretta who had ingested a fishing line, arrived from Kalymnos on 12 June 2012. She had been found on Sunday, but could not be moved to the RC sooner because ferry boats do not service the island on Sundays. During that weekend, she was taken care of by a local veterinarian, Stephania (after whom she was named), and members of the port police. Her last name, ʽBaklavaʼ, was chosen by the RC volunteers. Many thanks to everyone involved in helping save this turtleʼs life.
On Tuesday, 12 June 2012, ʽChrysantiʼ and ʽYiannisʼ were released in the Saronic Gulf with the help of the Aqua Divers Club. The two turtles were anxious to return to the sea and took off fast once they were placed in the water, quickly diving out of sight. They were sent off with everyoneʼs best wishes for a long and safe life far away from fishing hooks, lines and nets. It was a special thrill for me because it was the first time I had personally released a turtle.
On Saturday 9th June 2012, a small team of Citibank employees and their families (11 adults and 5 children) came to the RC to learn about ARCHELON and to work as day volunteers.
After a presentation about ARCHELON, the visitors were given a tour of our facilities. Then, everyone helped to clean two of the large, outdoor tanks (formerly occupied by the recently released ʽStellaʼ and ʽTrifonasʼ). After that, the parents sanded and painted the amphitheater, while the children went back under the tent to play some environmental education games.
The event was very successful and enjoyable: The Citibank volunteers learned about ARCHELON and the sea turtles, while at the same time providing valuable help to the RC. Many thanks to everyone at Citibank involved in the event for their help and continuing support.
On Sunday, 10th June 2012, about two hundred cyclists visited the RC, which was the finish point for a cycling marathon organized jointly by avid ARCHELON supporter George Amiras, host of the informational TV show Menoume Ellada (ʽWe live in Greeceʼ), the radio station En Lefko 87.7, and the Cycling Athletic Association of Argyroupolis. Participants were given a short presentation about ARCHELON, and a tour of the the RC and the turtles. The cyclists were enthusiastic about what they learned that day, and several expressed an interest in becoming day volunteers. George helped RC Co-ordinator Pavlo Tsaros move one of our recent turtle arrivals, 63-kilo ʽCassandraʼ, from her temporary outdoor tank to her new tank in the Intensive Care Unit. Many thanks to everyone involved in the event, and particularly to George for his continuing support of ARCHELON.
On Tuesday, 12th June 2012, a group of visitors from Crystal Cruises came to the RC. They toured the RC and were happy to see that ʽChristinaʼ, our tiny hatchling from Karpathos which a former group of visitors from the same cruise ship line had previously adopted, was doing well and is scheduled to be released soon. When she was found during the winter, she weighed 120 grams and her carapace measured 10.5 cm. She now weighs 344 grams and measures 14 cm. Many thanks to everyone at Crystal Cruises for their continuing support of ARCHELON.
Did you know ...
Visitors to the RC (as well as we volunteers) are often curious about the age of the turtles we come into contact with. This question is a challenging one even for scientists to answer (For example, read the article Age and growth determination by skeletochronology in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from the Mediterranean Sea by Paolo Casale, Nicoletta Conte, Daniela Freggi, Carla Cioni, Roberto Argano http://scientiamarina.revistas.csic.es/index.php/scientiamarina/article/viewArticle/1245, so obviously far beyond my ability to address.
However, one interesting thing that is obvious to everyone looking at sea turtles is that the small turtles (and therefore presumably young ones) have a sharp, bony ridge with hook-like appendages called keels running down the center of their carapace, from the top to the bottom.
From what I could find on the internet, the function of keels is not known. According to the article Hydrodynamic stability in posthatchling loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles by Erin Dougherty, Gabriel Rivera, Richard Blob, Jeanette Wyneken, the keels do not seem to help stabilize the turtles while they are swimming. http://www.mendeley.com/research/hydrodynamic-stability-in-posthatchling-loggerhead-caretta-caretta-and-green-chelonia-mydas-sea-turtles/, while an article on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website suggests they may be related to protecting the small turtles from predators. http://research.myfwc.com/engine/download_redirection_process.asp?file=06witheringto_0231.pdf&objid=51813&dltype=publication .
Whatever their function may be, to me the keels make the turtles look dinosaur-like and always remind me of their now-extinct ancestors, whose fate they hopefully will not share!