Loggerhead sea turtles released to Mediterranean in Castelldefels

Nesting of such reptiles in Catalan beaches increasing, probably due to climate change

Image of a loggerhead sea turtle being released on Castelldefels beach, on August 26, 2020 (by Àlex Recolons)
Image of a loggerhead sea turtle being released on Castelldefels beach, on August 26, 2020 (by Àlex Recolons) / ACN

ACN | Castelldefels

August 26, 2020 03:04 PM

The Catalan center for the recovery of marine animals (CRAM, its acronym in Catalan) has released 12 loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) into the Mediterranean Sea on Castelldefels beach, some 25 km south of Barcelona.

The marine animals were born in October 2019 and grew up in captivity in CRAM until reaching around 1 kg in weight, thought to be enough for them to be released.

On Wednesday, they were brought to the beach in boxes and were released in threes with some people there to witness the event, including Catalonia's sustainability minister, Damià Calvet.

This action by CRAM is part of the headstart project, which aims to breed such turtles until they are ready to go to the sea – without any help, only 1% of them would survive for more than a year. 

Confused by human activity

In October 2019, the turtles were found on the beach in Castelldefels just after being born – experts believe that the street lights in the town's seafront might have confused the reptiles, classified as a vulnerable species. They ended up stuck in some beach vegetation and dehydrated before being spotted and taken to CRAM.

Due to the noise, light and people on the seafront, turtles have to nest very close to the water, something that is not viable due to the sea temperature. Yet, sometimes the mother goes to a dry area where she will not be noticed and nests, something that will not be found until her offspring are born.

More turtles in Catalonia due to climate change?

Calvet pointed out to the press that it is becoming more common for these kind of turtles to nest in Catalonia, meaning that they "have been changing their behavior patterns" probably due to climate change.

"We need to study whether, during the season when they can nest, the temperatures in the places where they used to go have changed and they have to go a little bit further north," he added.

This week not only have 12 loggerhead sea turtles been released in Castelldefels, but also 10 more in Premià de Mar (north of Barcelona), who were born in 2018 and have also grown up in CRAM.