Rose, a twenty-year-old loggerhead turtle, has been released into the sea in eastern Tunisia after being cared for at the “Sea Turtle First Aid Center” in Sfax for over a month.
This center, along with one in Monastir, is the only facility in North Africa that cares for injured loggerhead turtles, which are threatened by overfishing, pollution, and climate change.
In addition to caring for injured turtles, the center uses beacons to track their migratory movements and raises awareness among local populations in the Gulf of Gabès, who are dependent on fishing.
The center has treated almost 80 turtles since it was established in the summer of 2021, with the goal of protecting, researching, and raising awareness about the loggerhead turtle.
The loggerhead turtle is the most widespread species in the Mediterranean and one of the most at-risk.
At least 10,000 loggerhead turtles are caught each year in fishermen’s nets in the Gulf of Gabès, with a mortality rate of 70% due to gillnets.
The loggerhead turtles are also threatened by plastic pollution, which they mistake for jellyfish, as well as by global warming, which can cause an imbalance in their sex ratio and endanger the species.
The center aims to protect these turtles and raise awareness about their importance in the ecosystem.
When Do Sea Turtles Begin Traveling?
Sea turtles embark on a lifelong journey that begins with their first swim to the sea.
During nesting season, thousands of female sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs and then quickly leave the area.
After a long incubation period, hatchlings emerge from their nests.
The land is not a safe place for sea turtle hatchlings, so they instinctively make their way to the water soon after birth.
However, the first 48 hours are critical, and many hatchlings fall prey to predators on the seashore before reaching the water.
Even in the water, sea turtle hatchlings face predators such as dolphins, sharks, and killer whales, resulting in a 50-60% mortality rate for young sea turtles each year.
As a result, sea turtles must constantly move around to stay safe in the ocean.
Male sea turtles never return to land once they enter the water, but female hatchlings will eventually mature and return to their nesting place to lay their own eggs.
The journey of a sea turtle is filled with challenges, but these animals have adapted to survive in their environment and continue their life cycle. Learn more here, How Far Do Sea Turtles Travel