canary islands

Two longerhead sea turtles are returned to the ocean in Tenerife

In March, Playa de la Nea was the site of the release of two longerhead sea turtles that were rehabilitated during three weeks at the La Tahonilla Wildlife Recovery Centre where they had arrived with different pathologies.

The Island Council of Tenerife jointly with the La Tahonilla Wildlife Recovery Centre (CRFS), has released two loggerhead sea turtle that were recovered at the centre onto the beach of La Nea in the municipality of El Rosario.

In 2022, the CRFS received 107 turtles, 104 belonging to the Caretta caretta species and three green turtles (Chelonia mydas). The rescued turtles are cared for and fed until they recover enought to be able to swim properly and hunt independently, at which point they are deemed ready to be released back into the sea.

The first of these was located on 11 March while swimming with difficulty off the coast of Los Gigantes, in Santiago del Teide. The animal was found with a fishing net hooked on its right front flipper. After being rescued, the CRFS took it in to begin its recovery and rehabilitation process.

After the first inspection, it was determined that the entangled fin had to be amputated due to the clear symptoms of necrosis and the risk of the disease spreading to the rest of the body. Therefore, the flipper was amputated and the recovery process began. After approximately three weeks, the turtle passed the rehabilitation and recovery period and was returned to the sea to continue its proper development.

The second turtle was found on the 7th of March while swimming several miles from Puerto Colón, in Costa Adeje. The animal was swimming with difficulty and with obvious signs of exhaustion. It also showed the visible presence of fungus on its shell. This turtle was recovered by a group of private individuals and handed over to the Adeje Local Police for its subsequent transfer to La Tahonilla.

In the first assessment it was determined that the fungus affected not only the shell but also the flippers and plastron of the turtle. During his recovery period he was given topical and oral antifungals. He also received specific therapy based on laser and ultraviolet sessions to complete the treatment. Finally, after overcoming the disease for two weeks, the turtle was returned to the sea to continue its evolutionary process.

The longerhead sea turtle is a species of marine reptile that is migratory and possess a great capacity for orientation. It is present primarily in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, especially in places with temperate seas. In the Canary Islands it is the sea turtle that is sighted the most. They stay in the waters of the archipelago practically all year round, especially during the spring and summer months.

Its diet is mainly carnivorous and it is the natural predator of jellyfish. It is common for turtles themselves to mistake plastic bags, or other marine debris, for jellyfish and ingest large quantities of plastic due to this confusion.

The La Tahonilla Wildlife Recovery Centre (CRFS) receives specimens of different species of wild turtles (non-domestic) every year that are found by private citizens and by different public organisms, such as police forces, as well as by other kind of collaborating entities, such as diving clubs, sport docks and fishermen guilds.

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