ΟUR NEWS

Rescue Center News

Joanne, whatʼs new at the Rescue Centre?

Another busy week (even though itʼs winter) at the Rescue Centre!

Turtle news

On 22 February, a 14-kilo Caretta caretta who was named “Leonidas” arrived at the Rescue Centre from Thessaloniki. “Leonidas” had no visible injuries and will be taken for X-rays shortly. He is responsive and diving, both of which are good signs. (The circular marks you see on his carapace in the photo were the places where barnacles had been attached.) “Leonidas” was found together with a dead turtle, both in the same areas as our recent arrival “Stella.”

“Leonidas” was found by Stelios, a member of EKPAZ (Hellenic Wildlife Hospital) – the same person and group who has helped rescue stranded turtles and get them to the Rescue Centre many times in the past. Stelios arranged for blood samples taken from “Leonidas” and the dead turtle to be tested in order to determine whether or not there is something toxic in the sea in that area. Thanks again to Stelios and everyone else involved for their invaluable help in protecting endangered sea turtles.

Here are updates about some of our most recent arrivals.

Savvas” – If you recall from last weekʼs report and X-ray photo, “Savvas” had ingested two hooks. The higher hook has been successfully removed surgically, and he is recuperating. However, removing the second hook will require a second surgery since the hook is embedded deeper in his esophagus. Our veterinarian will determine when his condition will be right for this second procedure.

Vassilis” was X-rayed and found to have ingested two small hooks, one of which is high in his esophagus, and one low in his intestine. Our veterinarian will determine when his condition will be right for a surgical procedure.

Christina,” our tiniest turtle, was taken for X-rays; fortunately, the X-rays showed she had no internal problems. She is doing well, and is eating 20 grams of food a day (small, crumb-sized pieces of shredded fish), which is very good for her size. Her weight and flipper will be monitored every week. Hopefully, when the weather is warmer, she will be able to be released.

Maybe you can help?

Our full-time volunteers at the Rescue Centre never complain about their Spartan-like accommodations and manage well with the living conditions. However, some of our household items need to be replaced. If you have any furniture (like a couch, a table, etc.), kitchen appliances or items in good condition which you donʼt want or need anymore, they would be put to good use at the RC. For more information, please call the Centre Co-ordinator Pavlo Tsaros at 210-8944444 (Thursdays-Mondays from 9 am to 5 pm), or stop by the RC on a Saturday or Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm). Thanks!

Did you know... ?

Barnacles are small, hard-shelled, relatives of shrimps and lobsters which attach themselves permanently to a hard substance (like a rock, the hull of a boat or ship, the carapace of a sea turtle, the body of a whale, etc.). They live, mate, reproduce, and die on the object they have attached themselves to. Although most barnacles are not parasitic, when lots of them accumulate on a moving object (for example, a sea turtle), their combined weight can cause the object to travel at reduced speed and with reduced mobility. In addition, their weight can tire the animal out, all of which can put the animal at a survival disadvantage.

Many of the turtles which come to the RC have barnacles attached. All of them are removed, the turtleʼs carapace is washed with an antiseptic solution, rinsed, and dried before the turtle is put into a clean, disinfected tank.

There are lots of interesting articles on the internet about barnacles and sea turtles, including a transcript of the log of the marine research vessel Odyssey reporting an encounter with a barnacle-infested Caretta caretta sea turtle. http://www.pbs.org/odyssey/odyssey/20050223_log_transcript.html

Interestingly enough, according to a documentary I recently saw on TV (it was either a Discovery channel documentary or a National Geographic one – sorry, I donʼt remember which!) the only sea creatures which barnacles do not attach themselves to sharks.

According to the documentary, there is something special about sharkskin which prevents barnacles from sticking on – this gives sharks a great survival advantage since they can always move and maneuver at top speed. Researchers are working to isolate the substance in sharkskin responsible for this and to synthesize it so that it can be ʽpaintedʼ onto shipsʼ hulls (in particular, military vesselsʼ), to optimize their performance and reduce maintenance costs.

Have a good week!

Joanne Stournara

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