06/04/2011

The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada and the Turtles of the Aegean Sea.

The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre was built by ARCHELON in 1994 with the help of the Municipality of Glyfada, where it is located. Injured turtles are sent here from all coastal areas of Greece with the help of fishermen, locals, and the port police who find them and arrange their transportation.

Unfortunately, more than 350 sea turtles donʼt make it to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre each year; they are found dead in the seas and on the beaches of Greece. ARCHELON interacts with fishing associations, other non-governmental organizations, the state and individuals with the goal to reduce sea turtle mortality and assist in their conservation, with environmental education a significant activity towards this goal.

Its location in the suburbs of Athens has made the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre an important destination for environmental education. More than 10,000 school children and adults of all ages visit the Rescue Centre each year to see these ancient mariners and understand what “threatened by extinction” means. ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, was founded in 1983 with the aim of protecting sea turtles and their habitats and raising public awareness about them and the threat of their extinction. It is a non-governmental and non-profit organization registered as a charity in Greece. It receives no state or EU funding, although the protection of sea turtles is a moral, legal, and constitutional obligation of the state.

Please donate to ARCHELON and help us save the sea turtles of the Mediterranean Sea. Visit ARCHELONʼs web site for further information: www.archelon.gr

There are currently 15 turtles at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, with a variety of injuries and durations of stay. The following paragraphs are a short presentation of 8 turtles which were found in the Northern, Central and Southern Aegean Sea, written by the volunteers who treat them.

Cleo by Rebecca Langstrom and Duncan Howitt-Marshall.

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She was moved out in one of the big tanks in the end of September but is now inside the green house, where we can control the water temperature over the winter.

Except for being an unusually social turtle, Cleo is quite a hazard when you take the water temperature, because if youʼre not careful, she just might try to eat the thermometer and your hand with it.

Kanella by Rebecca Langstrom.

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So when Kanella came to the centre in July, he had a bone poking out that needed to be amputated. The first attempt failed because the anaesthetics did not make him sleep completely. The amputation took place in November, when an Italian surgical vet team came over to operate Kanella and four other turtles. After the surgery Kanella was pretty slow and did not really want to eat.

He got slowly better with the eating but the wound did not look right, even though we were treating it every day. When our vet, Lyto, took a look at it and realized that it had been infected inside, she started to take out the not healing tissue.

The wound was pretty bad, so we took Kanella to Lytoʼs clinic where she had the proper instruments to close the wound. Afterwards, Kanella got to spend the night in the office with a nice heater. Kanella is now back in the tank, he is getting antibiotics and thankfully is still eating and getting better.

Kostas by Johannes Kupke.

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It is not possible to repair Kostas vision, because both his eyes were brutally removed with a sharp object.

Marina by Johannes Kupke.

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Even more positive I can see the impression I got of her in the last half of a year I have been in Greece: No hint of all this difficulties any more. Tubefeeding would take us volunteers a big effort (she has 85kg and had 55 when she arrived). Fortunately, Marina eats continuously fish. Her head injury is almost healed and because she swam in the biggest of ARCHELONʼs tanks in the summer time, she was the most presentable turtle.

Marina was the reason for wide open mouths of kids and adults. As soon as she loses her incline (head down tendency) our biggest turtle of the Rescue Centre will be released in the freedom of the sea. We are quite confident and optimistic that it will happen next spring, when she has the chance to swim in the outside tanks of ARCHELON again, where it is too cold for the animals in the winter time.

Mina by Molly McCharger.

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Pothea by Ida Kotjerba.

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Pothea is much better now and hopefully we can release her in May when the sea is warm enough. She is a very nice turtle.

Aristotelis by Ida Kotjerba and Nikos Vallianos.

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His length is around 40cm and his initial weight was 8kg. He wouldnʼt eat on his own, but he was tube-fed with mashed fish. Since summer 2010 he has been eating on his own and has already gained some weight. His wounds are also much better and we hope to release him as soon as summer starts.

Damaskinia by Nikos Vallianos.

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Edited and tranlsated by Nikos Vallianos with input from Wilhelm Bodmark, Rebecca Langstrom, Johannes Kupke, Lindsey Death, Ida Kotjerba, Molly McCharger, Duncan Howitt-Marshall, Pavlos Tsaros, and Nikos Vallianos. Photos taken by Theodoros Benos-Palmer.

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