Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre?
Our volunteer at the Rescue Centre Joanne Stournara updates us on the events of the week between 21st September and 5th October 2012.
Each year, as the summer field projects finish up, volunteers from the projects come to the RC for a week or so. This gives them the chance to see another aspect of ARCHELONʼs work, and their help at the RC is very greatly appreciated. Many thanks to these people of all ages and all walks of life who come to Greece every year from all over the world to help save endangered Caretta caretta turtles and their nesting habitats through fieldwork and by raising public awareness about the issues.
ʽMadiʼ arrived on 22nd September from Avlaki with an ingested hook and line. The hook was the same size and type which had been successfully removed surgically from another turtle, ʽNioniosʼ, recently (see previous report for details). Coincidentally, the same volunteer team who had rescued ʽNioniosʼ also tried to rescue ʽMadiʼ, but unfortunately this time things did not go well. ʽMadiʼ had suffered severe internal injuries from the hook and line, and nothing could be done to save her. According to ARCHELON founder and Scientific Committee member D. Margaritoulis, ʽ(The hook) is a J-hook from a drifting longline (or surface longline), targeting tuna, albacore or swordfish. Drifting longlines are used extensively in the Ionian Sea by Italian vessels, but also in the international waters (>6 miles from coast) non-Mediterranean fleets may also fish. Very few Greek vessels fish with this type of gear.ʼ Many thanks everyone who helped try to rescue and save ʽMadiʼ.
On 23rd September, ʽPanoramaʼ arrived from Karysto, Evia. A local veterinarian there, Maria, gave the turtle first aid before her transfer to the RC. She was sent by ferry to Rafina, where she was picked up by RC volunteers. Unfortunately, her injuries were so severe that she had died in transit. ʽPanoramaʼ had very unusual injuries on her back flipper, which from the description of them when she was found, were thought to be from a monk seal attack. However, upon close examination when she arrived at the RC, it was concluded that her wounds had certainly been caused by a human.
ʽFrosoʼ, a small Caretta caretta weighing just 6.5 kilos, arrived on 25 September from Kythnos with a missing flipper. (The injury was an old, healed one.) ʽFrosoʼ was found in a very weak and exhausted condition by a local resident, who cared for the turtle until arrangements were made by the port police to transfer her to the RC. She has been examined by our vet and X-rayed, and fortunately no problems were found. She is now much stronger, and is eating and diving normally. Hopefully, she will be released soon.
Unfortunately, ʽXeniaʼ, who had arrived on 22nd August from Skopelos with a deep, severe head injury, died on 2nd October. Her injuries are believed to have been caused by someone stabbing her multiple times with a long, very sharp instrument.
Last but not least, if all continues to go well, three releases are planned for next week: ʽMyriamʼ, ʽTaxiarchisʼ, and ʽTeniaʼ.
Did you know ...
Recent genetic studies have proved that turtles belong to the group of animals called archosaurs, which includes crocodiles and birds, and not to the group called lepidosaurs, which include snakes and lizards. (See, for example the article on the website Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120523200301.htm.)
As I have said before, I am not a marine biologist or scientist, but to my ordinary-personʼs eyes, some of the loggerhead turtles with their characteristic beaks and head shape do somewhat resemble birds , and when I watch them spread their front flippers and glide smoothly through the water in their big tanks at the RC, the impression is confirmed. You might want to check this out next time youʼre at the RC. (Note: The turtles all do not have the same head shape, so keep this in mind.)