Rescued loggerhead sea turtles released to Mediterranean in Ebre river delta

Some newborns lived in captivity for a year to ensure survival once in sea after eggs were found last July

A loggerhead sea turtle being released to Mediterranean in the Ebre river delta, on July 18, 2022 (by Catalan government)
A loggerhead sea turtle being released to Mediterranean in the Ebre river delta, on July 18, 2022 (by Catalan government) / ACN

ACN | Sant Jaume d'Enveja

July 19, 2022 03:01 PM

Six loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) were released into the Mediterranean Sea in Sant Jaume d’Enveja, in the Ebre river delta, on Monday, after eggs were found in July 2021.

The center for the recovery of marine animals (CRAM) worked on the conservation and release of the creatures with the Catalan government and the Marine Fauna Rescue Network.

In July last year, two nests were located on the same beach just two weeks apart, presumably from the same mother. After being found, biologists and volunteers moved the nests to the Serrallo beach, a kilometer away, to prevent rain from affecting the nests. 

Once installed in the new location, the nests were guarded by volunteers throughout the incubation period, from July 9 to September 18.

The animals that emerged, especially in the second nest, were not in very good condition and it was decided to transfer many of them to the CRAM recovery center, while others were released just after their birth.

Despite the efforts, none of the animals born from the second nest managed to survive beyond the first few weeks. As for the animals in the first nest, only the ones released on Monday survived. 

Second batch of rescued turtles released on Wednesday (Update)

Fourteen loggerhead sea turtles were released on Wednesday after spending a year in captivity. This time, around Calafell beach on the Costa Dorada. 

Six turtles were given satellite transmitters which will allow the experts to track their movements. Biologists explained that the creatures were released at 10am to avoid the high temperatures. 

Volunteers, bathers, and curious onlookers eagerly witnessed the release of the fourteen turtles. Children from summer camps shouted "another, another!," as they watched the turtles bravely walk towards the sea. 

The spectacle lasted over half an hour, until the last animal disappeared among the waves.

The coast of Tarragona is a very popular area for loggerhead sea turtles to nest. However, “only one egg in every 1,000 reaches adulthood, which is why we take them into the center,” says Lucía Garrido, head of the clinic and rescue area inside the CRAM foundation. 

 2022 breeding season, delayed

The loggerhead turtle breeding season starts in early June and lasts until the end of October. Mothers usually nest between mid-June and late July, while newborn turtles begin to emerge from early August to mid-to-late October.

Although this year's high temperatures suggested a strong season early, no nest has been detected on the Catalan coast so far. This lag has also been observed in other parts of the western Mediterranean such as southern Italy, where the incidence is much lower.