30 Years of Hope: The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON Celebrates World Sea Turtle Day

There are seven species of sea turtles in the world, and seven global threats to their survival. World Sea Turtle Day falls in the same week as World Oceans Day, reminding us of the small and large efforts made around the world to protect our planet. This year, World Sea Turtle Day is particularly special for Greece and the Mediterranean, as the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre of ARCHELON in Glyfada, Attica, celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The Rescue Centre, founded in 1994, has become a beacon of hope for injured and sick sea turtles. From its humble beginnings, where turtles were kept in plastic children's pools, it has evolved into a modern facility with 42 specialized rehabilitation tanks. One of the first volunteers to help at the Rescue Centre reminded us that in 1994 there was only one turtle with a hook in its mouth and the tanks had to be filled with seawater by using buckets."Thanks to the continuous support of the Municipality of Glyfada and with various donations, the infrastructure for the care and rehabilitation of the animals is being upgraded," says Dimitris Fytilis, the Rescue Centre officer. "Over the past three decades, the Centre has welcomed over 1,350 injured turtles from all over Greece, offering them a lifeline and the opportunity to return to their natural environment," he adds.

All these years, the operation of the Centre has been supported by dedicated staff and 1,230 tireless volunteers who come from near and afar to help with the conservation efforts for the Mediterranean turtles. Together, they provide meticulous care, wound treatment caused by collisions with speedboats, entanglement in fishing gear, plastic ingestion, and deliberate injuries. At the same time, valuable scientific information is collected about these animals and the health of marine ecosystems. "Each animal has its own story. Some sea turtles require less care, while others are in such critical condition that even the smallest factor can significantly impact their state. With daily care and unwavering support over months - and sometimes even years - you witness the animal regaining its strength and is ready to embrace life in the wild once again. "The moment the turtle disappears into the endless blue of the sea is the best emotional reward I could imagine," says Eirini Kasimati, the Rescue Network and Rehabilitation officer.

The temperature for releasing sea turtles into the sea depends on various factors, mainly the age and health of the animals. In general, releases occur when the sea temperature is at least 17°C. However, there are exceptions. Younger turtles may need a slightly warmer temperature, ideally above 18°C. Additionally, turtles suffering from lung infections may benefit from being released into warmer waters to aid their recovery. In recent years, the first rehabilitated turtles are released back into the sea around June and the last ones return in December.

But the results of this effort have is multi dimensional , as the story of each turtle becomes a powerful tool in the Centre's environmental education activities. School and visitors learn about sea turtle biology, the threats they face and the importance of their conservation. "At the end of each visit, many are moved and decide to support us by adopting a sea turtle that is currently treated at the Rescue Centre. Their support help us to continue our work and evolve", adds Dimitris. In 2023 there were a total of 43 new arrivals of injured or sick sea turtles, mostly Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) but also a few green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Most of the incidents involved ingestion or entanglement with fishing gear and, fortunately, the incidents of deliberate injuries have decreased.

Lean more about the history of the Rescue Centre here

Be part of the solution and become a volunteer!

Support ARCHELON! See the sea turtles that are currently treated at the Rescue Centre and make an adoption.



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