The story of ‘Papaya’ is that of so many turtles that, due to the pollution of the seas, get trapped in the plastic nets that circulate in the Mediterranean Sea. This copy of caretta caretta, weighing 35.7 kg, was found entangled in both fore flippers and neck by a ‘ghost’ net. A notice from an individual to the competent authorities saved his life and allowed him to enter the center of the Palma Aquarium Foundation, in Mallorca.
Plastic already invades the Arctic Ocean
She has been luckier than many of her companions: she was released this Friday in the waters of Mallorca after recovering in the center of said foundation. This sea turtle entered the Palma Aquarium Foundation last June and has now been returned to the Mondragó Natural Park thanks to the intervention of the operators of the Ministry of Environment of the Govern and said Foundation.
So far this year, a total of 15 sea turtles, of the 22 that have arrived alive at the Palma Aquarium Foundation, have been treated for having become entangled in plastic, one of the main causes of these specimens entering the center . “We have many problems with the ‘ghost nets’, nets made in North Africa with four plastic bottles, which are left adrift. The turtles don’t have very good eyesight and they get stuck, so they can’t dive in the sea and they don’t feed,” Ivan Ramos, head of the Species Protection Service, told elDiario.es.
Do not remove plastics without supervision
From the Government they ask for citizen collaboration so that any sighting of an injured turtle is reported to 112, with the aim of starting the rescue mechanism. In addition, they remember that it is not recommended that they be untangled by a citizen without professional supervision: “When the net is hooked, the animal moves and this net digs into its skin and causes a wound. Many times we think that we remove the net and it will be free, but we do not know if it has a serious infection in the neck or the fin. Not only by removing the net will the animal be fine, it can even die within days of an infection.”
“If these wild animals allow themselves to be caught, it is because they have serious physical problems, or some digestive or feeding problem, or because they are caught in nets. If we call 112, they will make a diagnosis and appropriate veterinary care and, when it is 100% confirmed that the specimen is cured and is fit to return to nature, it is returned to the sea”, explains Ramos. Most of the warnings are given during the summer season, when there is a greater number of boats navigating the waters of the Balearic archipelago.
In addition, at the Palma Aquarium a file is made for them and a microchip is put on them, with which it is possible to monitor the movements of these specimens throughout the Mediterranean Sea: “If we find this turtle in Greece or Cape Verde we can say when did he enter there and what migratory movement has he made”. For example, Ramos explains that three turtles that are being monitored by the Balearic Government are right now in different parts of the Mediterranean: one is in Valencia, another in Montpellier (France) and the third a little further north of Rome (Italy).
According to official data, the Consortium for the Recovery of the Fauna of the Balearic Islands (COFIB), through the Palma Aquarium, has recorded 48 strandings of sea turtles and 16 cetaceans so far this year. In Mallorca, 27 tortoises have been cared for, in Menorca another ten, in Eivissa seven and in Formentera four. In addition to entanglement, the second cause of entry of live turtles is the ingestion of plastics – four were rescued for this reason, one due to accidental capture, another due to trauma and one due to illness.