Salina’s great Mediterranean journey
22 August, 2022
In June 2021, fisherman Ricardo Gonçalves rescued a sea turtle tangled in fishing nets in the Guadiana river. Back then he was certainly far to imagine that, thanks to his quick response, and deliberation, one day this Caretta caretta specimen would return to the sea in such good health, that it would teach us a lesson on how much sea turtles can swim: and they do swim a lot!
That is what is happening with Salina, which was returned to the sea precisely a month ago and has, since then, swum… 1500 kilometers.
Upon arrival at Porto d’Abrigo do Zoomarine, Salina was severely anemic, had a fish hook stuck at the entrance of the stomach, and was at high risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. However, this turtle received
a second chance at life when, on July 20th, 2022, in cooperation between Zoomarine’s team of specialists and the Portuguese Navy (Departmento Marítimo do Sul), the noble effort of Ricardo Gonçalves was honored, and the sea turtle
was returned to the ocean about 20 kilometers south of Faro.
Satellite data shows that, in just 30 days, Salina has been swimming more than 50 kilometers per day, on average. This determined loggerhead sea turtle passed the gulf of Cadiz, swam off the coast of Tangier, entered the Strait of Gibraltar, and since then has been swimming in large circles along the Alboran Sea, between Malaga (Spain) and El Jehba (Morocco). It is now about 345 kilometers (as the crow flies) from the place where it was returned!
If conditions remain the same, Salina (which, over the years, may even prove to be a male turtle…) should continue its journey, unaware of its contribution to science – and this is how it should be, to respect its well-being and its return to a peaceful life, honoring the biology of the species (living dozens of years, breeding annually, and never interacting with humans again).
Go, Salina! May your designs be fulfilled – and although you don’t know it, we remain with you, daily, anxiously observing (but also with joy and paternal pride) to a computer screen.