03/04/2024

Citizens inform us of sea turtle strandings

ARCHELON started the effort to record the incidents of dead turtles washing up on Greek shores in 1992, establishing the National Sea Turtle Rescue Network. Every year, ARCHELON receives all the "Sea Turtle Stranding Sheets" concerning sea turtles from the local Port Authorities of the whole country, together with photos and other relevant information. The rescue hotline receives many calls and messages from our fellow citizens about sea turtle strandings. While in previous years the number of reports ranging from 500-600 per year, in 2023 reports of the unfortunate turtles reached 983!

In any case, this number does not represent the total number of deaths that occur each year. However, systematic recording of incidents can provide us with important insights into the dangers facing sea turtles. The people of ARCHELON who support the Rescue Network, systematically examine each case, with the aim of better organizing the Network and evaluating the threats facing sea turtles. "The results of the long-term records reveal that the causes of turtle death are mainly related to accidental captures in fishing gear, plastic ingestion, entanglement in plastic waste at sea and collisions with high-speed boats", explains Eirini Kasimati, ARCHELON’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Officer. “In cases where washed-up animals have obvious head or shell injuries, it is possible that these have come from a collision with a boat or even intentional injury by humans. Also, the interaction with fishing tools (nets, lines) can sometimes leave external signs that determine the cause of death", Eirini explains.

two sea turtles that are stranded

But many times there are no obvious wounds or marks on the dead animals, so the incidents point to drowning after being accidentally caught in fishing gear or to ingestion of plastics leading to a slow death, as their gastrointestinal system cannot process the plastic. But often it is not possible to establish the cause of death, especially if putrefaction has occurred. It is also not possible to pinpoint the exact area where there has been a particular problem, as currents and waves can carry dead animals over long distances.

"We thank all the people who reported strandings and the Coast Guard for their cooperation in the Rescue Network", says Dimitris Fytilis, ARCHELON Rescue Center Officer.

What can you do if you find a dead sea turtle?

If the turtle is dead, it must be brought ashore and reported to the local port authority and ARCHELON - Rescue Network on 6941511511.

Caution! It is possible for the turtle to appear dead but to be in a state of hypothermia, especially in the cold months. In any case, ARCHELON must be notified so that appropriate instructions can be given to ascertain whether the turtle is dead or alive. To help with our records, you can send photos of the animal, especially of its injuries, to rescue@archelon.gr. Finally, notify the Local Authorities for the legal landfill.

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