This is the moment caring vets treat a huge, 36-stone leatherback turtle – which is listed as critically-endangered – after it became entangled in a fishing net at a Spanish port and suffered multiple injuries.
The large turtle was treated at L’Oceanografic, an oceanarium in the Spanish city of Valencia, and returned to sea on 21st March.
The marine animal turned up at the Port of Mazarron in the Spanish region of Murcia on Saturday with injuries to its flippers and shell after becoming entangled in a fishing net.
The turtle, which weighs a whopping 230 kilogrammes (36 stone), was almost 1.5 metres (4 feet and 11 inches) in length.
After being rescued in the port, it was taken to the animal recovery centre at L’Oceanografic by officials from the Directorate General for the Natural Environment and the Wildlife Recovery Centre of the Region of Murcia.
The oceanarium said in a statement on 21st March: “Aquarium professionals carried out the relevant veterinary procedures, physical examinations, ultrasound, blood tests, etc., and healed the multiple lesions and erosions that it had all over its body.
“Although its initial condition was very weak, the animal is responding favourably to treatment and will be returned to the sea today (21st March) in Cartagena.
“The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is one of the largest turtle species on the planet, weighing up to 600 kilos, and many aspects of its biology are still unknown.
“For this reason, a satellite device has been installed on the turtle’s shell, which will provide scientists with a great deal of information about the routes and behaviour of these fascinating animals at sea.”
Leatherback turtles are listed as ‘critically-endangered’ on the IUCN’s Red List and Spain also includes it in its List of Wildlife Species under a Special Protection Regime.
The oceanarium said: “Its main threats are the hunting of adult specimens on the beach, accidental death in fishing gear, and the plundering of their nests.
“It is characterised by an extraordinary ability to regulate its temperature, which allows it to tolerate very low temperatures and dive to great depths.”
The Spanish park, one of the largest aquariums in Europe, has received nearly 24 million visitors since 2003.
The statement said its “ultimate goal is for L’Oceanografic to contribute to the knowledge and conservation of the marine environment, and provide visitors with a unique, enriching and fun experience”.
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