Together We Protect – Zoomarine

One more happy ending story

Tortuga Island is an integral part of Haiti, in the Caribbean. It is one of the beautiful islands of Hispaniola. Although very small in size, its rich history is marked by piracy, slavery, conflicts between occupying nations and, more recently, to tourism. It owes its name to its shape when viewed from Hispaniola: it resembles an immense tortoise floating in the warm seas of the Caribbean. And that’s why it became the name of the sea turtle that was admitted to Porto d’Abrigo, for rehabilitation, on March 2nd, 2022.

Upon arrival at the rehabilitation center for marine species – the first of its kind in Portugal – this small loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) weighed only 3,7kg and it was 28,1cm long. Like the island that gave it its name, it is small in size, but plays a giant role for the conservation of its species [listed as In Danger, by the IUCN Red List].

A few hours before its arrival to the center, Tortuga had been caught off the coast of Albufeira, trapped (and partially submerged) in fishing nets. The shipowner, knowing the risk of injury and aspiration pneumonia, rescued it and immediately brought it to land, for observation and rehabilitation by Zoomarine’s specialized technicians.

When Tortuga was hospitalized, it revealed a parasite infestation, anemia and a considerable electrolyte change, in addition to its small size.
Its rehabilitation, however, was quick – and, two months later, this juvenile – of still undetermined sex – is ready to be returned to the wild, for another opportunity for an independent life.

Its return will take place on May 19th, off Faro, aboard the NRP Sagittarius. The date and the chosen location are deeply symbolic: integrating the Day of the Portuguese Navy and the European Day of the Sea celebrations (May 20th), that this year will be held on the city of Faro until May 22nd.

As long-standing partners in these actions for Nature Conservation, the Autoridade Marítima Nacional and Zoomarine are collaborating in returning Tortuga to the sea, counting with the onboard presence of His Excellency, Admiral Gouveia e Melo, Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Armada. This action is expected to carry a load of ministration and emotion, including a sweet taste of… “mission accomplished”.

Long live Tortuga and its specie! And a very warm ‘Thank You’ to all Portuguese Navy’ and Zoomarine’ professionals who have been joining forces and emotions, for more than 25 years, for the continued protection of our beautiful and fragile marine heritage.

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