Arca del Mar, the Oceanográfico´s new facility for treating turtles and dolphins

Nov 21, 2007

The Valencia Region today has the most up-to-date facilities in Spain for caring for turtles and dolphins, claimed the Regional Minister for the Environment, Water, Urban Planning and Housing, José Ramón García Antón, during the presentation of this new centre in the L’Oceanogràfic. He also added that this “represents, without a doubt, a landmark in the conservation of these threatened species of the Mediterranean”. 
Arca del Mar, the Oceanográfico´s new facility for treating turtles and dolphins As García Antón explained, “these new facilities came about as the result of a collaboration agreement on developing conservation and marine biodiversity awareness-raising activities in the Valencia Region, signed between the City of Arts and Sciences and the Regional Environment Ministry, which has provided the Oceanográfico with specially designed facilities to house and care for turtles and dolphins”.

“These facilities”, continued the Regional Minister for the Environment, “have been paid for by the City of Arts and Sciences, but the Regional Ministry will be responsible for managing the facilities and the staff working under their direction”.

García Antón said that the Regional Environment Ministry and the City of Arts and Sciences have been working closely for many years on caring for animals stranded on the coast of the Valencia Region. Also actively collaborating with them are the University of Valencia, the coastal Town Councils of our Region, Fishermen’s associations, the Red Cross and the Civil Guard.

“All of these organisations form part of the Valencia Network for Beached Animals, an organisation that has allowed us to recover more than 200 turtles since 1995 of which 85% have been cared for and returned to the sea”, said García Antón, who also appealed to the public to participate by reporting any sighting of wounded turtles by using the emergency telephones of the Valencia Regional Government, 112, so that measures can be taken to help them.

Five specimens returned to their habitat

The Regional Minister, García Antón, set free five turtles that had been recovered on the Valencia coast this year as a result of this collaboration between the Oceanogràfic the Regional Ministry for the Environment and the Network for Beached Animals.

Two had been treated for fishing hook wounds, another for wounds caused by collision with a boat, another for injuries from getting tangled up in a fisherman’s net and the other for swallowing plastic. After several months of treatment at “La Granja” of El Saler and in the Oceanogràfic’s facilities, they have today been returned to their habitat.

“Most of the living specimens that are attended to at our centre – explained García Antón- are successfully rehabilitated and returned to the sea in the shortest time possible”. This success rate lies in the experience both of our veterinary surgeons and the experts who are later responsible for their supervision and care, as well as to an improvement in the conditions of the facilities where they stay during their time at the Centre and the Oceanogràfic of Valencia”.

Deaths are mostly due to the bad state of health in which they arrive, and, to a lesser degree, to secondary complications stemming from the pathologies from which they are suffering when they arrive.

The most direct causes of injury to turtles and which makes their treatment and rehabilitation necessary are: accidental capture in fishing nets or getting tangled up in nets (20%) and fishing hooks in the oesophagus, stomach or intestines of turtles (40%).

In the latter case, the treatment consists of complicated surgical operations performed by the vets of the Recovery Centre of “La Granja” and the Oceanogràfic. The turtle’s capacity for recovering tissue is very high.

“In 2007, more than 70% of the turtles treated at the Centre have recovered and have been returned to the sea”, said the Regional Minister for the Environment, who stressed that the loggerhead turtle is practically the only species of turtle present in the Mediterranean and is under threat of extinction and, therefore, protected.