18 Aug 2009

Rescued marine turtle

During one of its regular research trips on 22 July 2009, Morigenos team found a marine turtle. It was a young loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), with carapace length of 28 cm, barely showing any signs of life. The animal, covered in external parasites (barnacles) was lying motionless at the water surface. It did not even react to the presence of our research boat, which is unusual for turtles. Upper and lower carapace, flippers and head were completely covered in small and large barnacles, which even infested one of the nostrils. Barnacles are commonly found on marine turtles, but in much smaller numbers.
We carefully lifted the turtle out of the water and took it to Piran. After some consultation with experts from the NGO Biocen and the Piran Aquarium (coordinators of marine turtle research in Slovenia) we took the turtle to Ljubljana and handed it over to a specialist vet, dr. Zlatko Golob. He found out that the turtle was infested with stomach parasites. These creatures have exhausted the turtle so much that it got overly infested with barnacles. It was barely alive and would undoubtedly die if we had not rescued it. Dr. Golob, who is a marine turtle expert and works in the hospital for small, wild and exotic animals, has cured the turtle in less than a month. The turtle started feeding again and was soon ready to be returned to the wild. When we saw it again, the turtle was unrecognisable. All the barbacles were gone and the turtle appeared to be full of energy.
Morigenos researchers, together with experts from Biocen, therefore released the turtle on 14 August 2009. It was a special moment that will stay in our hearts forever. We all hope that our little turtle will live a very long and happy life, and that it would produce many new little turtles. Perhaps we all contributed a piece of the puzzle, however small, to the conservation of marine turtles in the Mediterranean.

Photos can be seen here.

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