27 June 2009

Sea turtle rescue off Galaxidi

Yesterday, June 26th, while we were looking for dolphins, Susan (one of our Tethys volunteers) spotted a sea turtle at the surface far away.

We reached the sighting spot and found a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) entangled in fishing gear. We decided to try to free her from the net, but as soon as we approached with our inflatable, she started to dive. We could see her under the water surface trying to dive deeper, but the net hampered her movements.

For some minutes we lost her. The sea was a little wavy and chances to see her underwater were low. We had almost lost hopes when the turtle surfaced again.

This time we were quicker. We approached her again and I jumped into the water to hold her. She wanted to dive, but with the help of Aina (our research assistant from Spain) and our volunteers, we managed to take her on board. She was really big! About 80 cm long and 60 cm wide.

We covered her eyes to calm her down and we freed her from a green rope 75 cm long that was wrapped around two flippers together with a piece of nylon gillnet including seven floats. The skin was not injured and as we finished removing the rope and net parts she could move her flippers properly.

We made sure she did not have any other problem. She looked fine, apart from a 10 cm wound on the carapace, probably caused by a a former collision with a boat propeller. The wound seemed to have completely healed and a few small barnacles were already attached to that area.

Then we leaned her out of the boat and released her. She dove immediately, but this time she was really quick and disappeared from sight in the blue waters of the Gulf of Corinth.

Some photos of this event can be viewed here

Silvia Bonizzoni

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