04/03/2021

The causes of injury of the sea turtles that arrive at the Rescue Center

Sea turtles are an indicator of the health of the marine ecosystem. The presence of plastics in the seas, the transport of micro plastics in food webs, overfishing, abandoned nets and fishing gear and climate change are threats also to the sea turtles.

The story of the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Glyfada began in 1994. Since then, more than 1100 rescued sea turtles have returned healthy to the sea having completed their treatment at the Center.

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In 2020, the Rescue Centre hosted 52 injured or sick sea turtles for treatments, of which 17 were admitted in previous years and 35 arrived at the Rescue Center during 2020. "The turtles arrived in Athens from all parts of coastal Greece and by any transportation means possible," says Dimitris Fytilis, the Rescue Center Officer. "Our fellow citizens spotted them at sea or on the shore and as soon as they found out that they were alive, they called the ARCHELON rescue phone, giving us more information."

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"The reasons for the admission of the 35 turtles that came to the Rescue Center in 2020 are similar to previous years," explains Irini Kasimati, the Rescue and Treatment Officer. The largest percentage of them (43%), arrived with intentional head or carapace injury by humans. Turtles that have suffered from natural causes, such as pneumonia and cold shock represent the 29% of this year’s admissions. A third cause of admission (20%) is injuries from swallowing hooks and entanglements in nets. There are turtles suffering injuries by collision with boat (3% of the total). There are also cases of sick sea turtles admitted where we could not determine the cause (5% of the total).

"The turtles we treated in 2020 at the Rescue Center are fewer than in other years, and that is probably due to quarantine," says Irini. “Of these 52 turtles, 21 recovered returned to the sea, of which 10 were introduced in 2019. Unfortunately, 11 turtles died while the remaining 20 are still being treated”.

Within a few months, the Rescue Center is able to safely release animals suffering from natural causes, but unfortunately long-term treatment is needed for animals that have been intentionally injured by humans or have collided with boats.

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The turtles are usually picked up and brought to the Rescue Center by local volunteers, residents of Attica. However, during the period of severe quarantine in Attica, they were transported by the staff and foreign volunteers. During the first year of the pandemic, the Rescue Center operated with staff, 30 local volunteers and 35 volunteers from abroad, several of whom stayed longer than originally agreed to fill gaps due to travel cancellations.

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There is something more: people in ARCHELON managed to receive and host our volunteers from abroad following strict protocols, and they also managed to talk to more than 4000 visitors of the Rescue Centre keeping social distancing without a single cases of COVID-19 infection!

Congratulations to everyone involved!

At the moment the Rescue Centre is closed for the public.

However, a pilot live online tour is currently being offered for schools at its premises. Interested teachers can contact ARCHELON by email: education@archelon.gr and on the phone +30 2108982600 (Monday-Friday 10: 00-14: 00).

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