Sea turtles, risks and nesting sites in Italy - iO Donna

THEThe Mediterranean is a paradise for sea turtles, but it can become hell. It is the sea that it is heating up faster and is “overrun” with waste. Every year, 570,000 tons of plastic end up in the sea. These two factors, together with the intensive fishing activity and impact with boats, have a very serious impact on all stages of the life cycle of sea turtle species. Animals that appear on the IUCN Red List as at risk of extinction (except the flat-backed turtle, Natator depressus, still classified as Data Deficient).

June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day

This is what emerges from the WWF report “Italy, turtle peninsula” published today, June 16, on the occasion of the World Sea Turtle Day. For the WWF, June is also the month of GenerAzione Mare, the campaign that unites citizens, volunteers, businesses, municipalities, associations, protected areas and fishermen for the protection of the Mediterranean and its inhabitants.

Federica Pellegrini swims with the turtle in the Maldives

Federica Pellegrini swims with the turtle in the Maldives

The Italy of sea turtles: where they nest and why they are caught

Like, in fact, sea turtles: in the Mediterranean, over 150,000 turtles are accidentally caught each year by fishing hooks, lines and nets and over 40,000 die. In Italy alone, 25,000 sea turtles are caught by trawl nets every year.

Of the three Mediterranean sea turtle species, the Caretta caretta is the only one that regularly nests along the Italian coasts (especially in the southern regions). In the last five years (2016-2021) it has been registered an increase in the number of nests which, however, represent only a few tens of units of the approximately 8 thousand of the entire Mediterranean.

Ingesting plastic is very risky for sea turtles.

Ingesting plastic is very risky for sea turtles. photo Troy Mayne, Wwf

The WWF and the monitoring and protection of the nests

The monitoring and protection activities of WWF nests in our country have grown in recent years thanks also to the Life Euroturtles project: in 2020 alone, WWF Italia operators and volunteers intervened on 108 nests from which more than 5,000 chicks emerged. they have reached the sea.

Most of the nests have been identified in Sicily, 81, followed by Calabria with 26 and Basilicata with 1 nest. The result is to be considered particularly significant if we consider that in 2019 the nests found were 46, 26 in 2018.

Mexico, turtle eggs protect themselves with drones

Mexico, turtle eggs protect themselves with drones

The events for the World Day of Sea Turtles

To celebrate the World Day of Sea Turtles, several events are planned: on June 16 they will come two Caretta carettas were freed off the Port of Bari recovered after a period of treatment in the WWF Recovery Center of Molfetta (Bari).

On Sunday 19 June another sea turtle, treated at the WWF Recovery Center in Policoro (Potenza) will return to the sea thanks to the WWF volunteers and also on Sunday 19 in Marsala (Trapani) they will be able to know all the secrets of these beautiful marine reptiles in the meeting organized, from 10.00 to 12.30 at the South Beach, by WWF Sicily. The Plastic Free day by kayak in Maratea is added to the appointments on Sunday 19 June, with meeting point at 9.00 am at Spiaggia Nera.

A turtle treated and cared for at the WWF Animal Rescue Center

The WWF vademecum for those who go to the beach

Also boats, perhaps in good faith, can pose a threat to sea turtles. Here are the correct and incorrect behaviors in the presence of a sea turtle.

1. If a turtle is spotted on the beach or in the water, that’s fine observe it from a safe distance, without approaching or chasing it. Be especially careful if you are on a boat. If possible, take the coordinates of the sighting and communicate them to the local authorities or via the eTurtle app.

2. If the turtle is spotted on the beach, keep a distance of about 10 meters e limit any source of disturbance, especially flashes and light devices (especially if the sighting takes place at night)

3. If a turtle in distress is sighted, contact the competent authorities at 800904841 (national turtle emergency service), or at 1530 (Harbor Master’s Office) or the local contacts of the WWF turtle network where present.

4. If a sea turtle is sighted laying or has already laid its eggs in an area of ​​the beach and is returning to the sea, call 1530 or the local contacts of the WWF turtle network where present. It is also good to warn in case of finding turtle tracks on the beach.

5. Do not disturb the nests inside the fences prepared by the recovery centers and local authorities and, when on the beach, avoid as much as possible activities that could damage unmarked nests (driving motor vehicles, planting umbrellas near the shoreline, …).

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6. Reduce the use of plastic, especially of the disposable one, in favor of reusable objects and / or in recyclable material. Also pay attention to the correct disposal of waste (on the beach, and not).

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