Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre?
Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events of the two weeks between 15th June and 28thJune 2012.
There were two new arrivals and two releases during the last two weeks.
ʽRosaʼ, a 16-kilo Caretta caretta, arrived from Messolonghi with a very severe head injury and injuries to her face. X-rays showed that she had not ingested any hooks, which is something. However, due to the severity of her head injury, she is unable to dive and has no interest in food, which means she will have to be tubefed for now. It is tragic to see beautiful, otherwise healthy turtles like Rosa and others who share her fate floating around aimlessly on the surface of their tanks. ʽIoannaʼ, a 50cm, 11-kilo Caretta caretta who had ingested a fishing hook, arrived from Leros on 22 June 2012. She will be treated and hopefully will recover.
ʽMyriamʼ one of our green turtles, now eats when fed by hand. She has even started diving to retrieve bits of food which fall to the bottom of her tank; this is an excellent indication that her head injury and general health are improving. Our other green turtle, ʽApostolisʼ, was moved into one of the big, outdoor tanks for final observations before his release. He was ecstatic in the big tank, swimming around at full speed. (If you recall, ʽApostolisʼ had been found earlier this year with a plastic bag wrapped around his head. His eyes were swollen and blistered, and he was very weak.)
On Wednesday, 27th June 2012, ʽFotiniʼ and ʽThessaʼ were released from Legrena Beach. These two turtles, who had new visible injuries, were believed to be suffering from hypothermia. They had been washed ashore during this winterʼs season of extremely high winds and cold sea temperatures and treated at the RC until their health was regained. ʽThessaʼ had an implanted microchip, which ʽtoldʼ us that she had come from Turkey. After contacting our Turkish colleagues to inform them about ʽThessaʼ, it turned out that RC Co-ordinator Pavlos Tsaros knew the person who had tagged ʽThessaʼ, a contact which served to renew the ties of collaboration between the two groups.
The release turned out to be a bit shocking for everyone accompanying the turtles. The drive to the beach, which had always been a pleasant ride along the west coast of Attica, with the sea on one side and the typical Attica hilly landscape with its sparse vegetation on the other, was marred by the recent forest fires which had swept through the area, turning everything into a burnt, black wasteland. An even bigger surprise awaited us at the beach which in the four weeks since our last visit there had sprouted a ʽforestʼ of permanent-type beach umbrellas, compacted sand, and what appeared to be the beginning of a parking lot. We managed to release the turtles that day, although the RC Co-ordinator is considering changing the release site.
There have been lots of groups visiting the RC recently. As part of a special program which had been arranged by their teachers in advance, students from a local French school visited the RC and helped RC volunteers perform various tasks.
The RC has also been a stop for groups of young adult students from the U.S. in the People to People Ambassador Program, which aims (among other things) to increase studentsʼ global awareness by experiencing other cultures and participating in local cultures and events. After a presentation about sea turtles and ARCHELON, members of the group did things like clean tanks and turtles and help with groundskeeping. Many thanks to everyone and their group leaders for their invaluable help as well as their support of ARCHELON by adopting turtles and purchasing things from our shop. I would also like to thank Josh and Nick for planting a tree in the front garden, something which wasnʼt easy in the sun-baked earth. (Hope you managed to get the red mud off your shoes!)
Finally, on 23rd June 2012, Pavlo Tsaros and Anthoula Togia represented ARCHELON at the special conference Volunteers in poverty conditions - VIPs: Very Important Persons organized by the Mayor of Glyfada, Mr Kostas Kokkoris. Among the participants were Mayor Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo and his colleagues of Glyfadaʼs sister-city in Spain (Marinaleda) and representatives of that city. At Pavloʼs invitation, the Spanish guests visited the RC the next day and were very impressed by and supportive of ARCHELONʼs work.
Did you know...
Although I have often handfed Caretta caretta turtles at the RC who cannot pick up food on their own, I had never had such close contact with a green turtle until this week, when I handfed ʽMyriamʼ. Besides the difference in head shape and colour between the two species, I saw up close that the green turtleʼs jaws have a serrated ridge all along them, which helps them grab onto and tear off their natural food: sea grasses and plants. For more information about and pictures of these turtles, Google: ʽgreen turtle serrated jawʼ.