Thanks to volunteer help and public support, “Eleuthir-Leon” is back in the sea swimming free

‘Did you hear that dad? You should mind the turtles when you dive!’ a child advised its scuba diver father. The family had just been informed that they were visiting a nesting beach and that the waters were home to the loggerhead sea turtle.

“Eleuthir-Leon” is one of the lucky ones: firstly because he was found and secondly because he was immediately taken to the ARCHELON Rescue Centre for treatment. On 11th July dozens of holidaymakers were given the opportunity to watch him make his trip back to the sea which has been his home for all these years. We now hope that continued public support and mobilisation will keep him coming back to these waters for the years to come.

“Eleuthir-Leon” went through so much, but he finally did it. As his name suggests, he pulled through bravely and was eventually set free.

Over the centuries, sea turtles have been the inspiration for myths and legends in many cultures, a favourite material for storytellers, as well as a symbol for wisdom and prudence due to their longevity. One of the earliest ancient Greek coins bears the carved image of a Caretta-caretta sea turtle, while a Hindu legend tells the tale of how the Earth rests on the backs of four elephants that stand on the shell of a turtle and travel on an infinite sea. According to the myth, if the turtle dies the elephants will lose their balance and the Earth will perish. The moral of the story is that the survival of all species is the key to the planet’s ecological balance.

By releasing a sea turtle after its recovery, ARCHELON seeks to help the animal return to its natural habitat. What is more, such events take place in public so that people can experience the moment, realise the significance of the species in the chain of life and join the effort to protect it.

ARCHELON would like to thank Grecotel Hotel and Resorts for their kind contribution: by adopting “Eleuthir-Leon” for these six months they covered his treatment and transport costs. Special thanks go to the Caramel Grecotel Boutique Resort for hosting the event and giving locals, visitors and school students a warm welcome. Furthermore ARCHELON would like to thank the Rethymno Municipal Council represented by Mayor George Marinakis and Counsellor Thodoris Ninou, the Regional Unit of Rethymno represented by Mr. Manos Nikoloudakis member of the Department for the Environment and Water Resources, as well as the port authorities who also attended the event. Finally, the presence of Mr. Nicholas Stampolidis, Archaeology Professor at the University of Crete and initiator of the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna was a great honour for us.

After months of treatment in a protected indoor facility, a sea turtle touches the water again and this is a precious and moving moment, full of powerful emotions that bring tears to the eyes and smiles to the faces. It is the moment the turtle has been anticipating and which our friends and volunteers have been waiting for while looking after each one of the rehabilitated turtles.

For my part, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this experience of a lifetime; catch a glimpse of the turtle as it takes a breath, then dives into this deep blue sea and is gone for good, embarking on new adventures.

Note: ‘Eleuthir’ is an ancient Greek name closely related with the word ‘eleftheria’ which means ‘freedom’.

Information: Athanasia Nikolopoulou, Crete Program Coordinator, Tel.: +30 6937352379



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