If there is a life changing moment in my life, it's 2011 after watching the documentary "The Cove" of Richard O'Barry. After that, I decided to take action. How? At first, I became volunteer of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society but, after a while, I realized that it wasn't the right way for me. I still really admire what Sea Shepherd does, but I was feeling the need to take concrete actions at local level, where I live. I started to look for Sea Turtles Recovery Centers because I have always loved these animals and I started to support as volunteer the work of many centers in South Italy and I discovered the network "Progetto Tartarughe" of the WWF.
Today I collaborate as volunteer with the WWF Policoro and I support their initiatives through the campaign of GreenRope "Turtles Guardians".
Seven different species of sea turtles live in our ocean & seas worldwide and three of them live in the Mediterranean Sea: Loggerhead - the most common - (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtle. Nearly all the species are classified as Endangered. Human activities such as over-fishing, the practice of bottom-trawling and longlines in fisheries, plastic pollution and collision with vessels have a huge negative impact on the populations of these amazing old mariners.
It has been calculated that almost 150.000 sea turtles are impacted by these threats each year in the Mediterranean Sea and almost 1/3 of them die. The negative impact of plastic debris is increasing in the last years. The numbers are shocking: the 35% of sea turtles found dead have ingested plastic debris and the 50% of the sea turtles’ population in the Mediterranean Sea is potentially at risk of ingestion. Moreover, worldwide these animals are slaughtered for their eggs, meat and shells and they suffer from poaching and over-exploitation.
Yes, the threats that these animals are facing are many and serious BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO LOSE HOPE! During these years I met many "sea turtle lovers" taking action word wide realizing great conservation actions focused on the preservation of these animals & their habitat, reducing their mortality, patrolling the coast during the nesting season, monitoring their nests and implementing awareness campaigns about sea turtles preservation in universities, schools, public spaces and involving youngsters, children, adults, locals, tourists, experts and fisher-men.
Adult female of loggerhead sea turtle
Rescued by WWF Policoro and released with a GPS Tag donated by the Jonian Dolphin Conservation (JDC) for a joined study on her movements
Photo by Stefano Bellomo
Every time I rescue or release in freedom a sea turtle, I always feel the same emotions like if I do it for the first time. The best emotions are during the hatch of the newborns, coming out from the sand, looking for the right direction and then, moving fast to the sea.
This is another story of conservation like the one about dolphins told in another article and, as I wrote there, you can join me! How?
Gianluca Cirelli (marine biologist of WWF Policoro) and me preparing a loggerhead sea turtle to go back to freedom (first photo) and then (second photo), back to the sea (in the photo: same sea turtle, Gianluca Cirelli, Carmelo Fanizza - JDC president, Richard O'Barry and me).