the fisherman the turtle and the satellite that unites them
19 July, 2022
In June 2021, near the banks of the Guadiana River in Azinhal, a fisherman saved a turtle from drowning. There was a risk that it would develop aspiration pneumonia (because it got caught in the nets and could have inadvertently inhaled water), therefor, the fisherman, Ricardo Gonçalves, asked the team of specialists from Zoomarine’s Porto d’Abrigo to collect the turtle, for observation, treatment and subsequent return to the wild. Thirteen months later, the loggerhead turtle returns to the Sea, in a cooperation between Zoomarine and the Portuguese Navy, honoring the noble effort of a fisherman who had the necessary agility, vision, courage and empathy.
The sea turtle, Salina, is a Caretta caretta specimen, the most common in Portuguese waters – a protected species. It arrived to Porto d’Abrigo measuring 63 cm and weighing 38.7 kg, now returning to sea larger (67 cm) and much heavier (51.8 kg).
Not so unusual was the hook that an X-ray detected embedded almost at the entrance to this turtle’s stomach. Several attempts made by Dr. José Sampayo, an international expert in zoological endoscopy, proved unsuccessful to safely remove said hook; however, as the event is already old and the hook is already fully wrapped in tissue, it is assumed that it no longer represents a danger to the animal and, with time, it will disintegrate.
It is time now for Salina to return to the sea. This will take place on board the NRP Cassiopeia, departing from the Commercial Pier of Faro at 8:30 am, and bound for 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) to the south.
And just as Salina’s story, its return will also be untraditional: attached to its shell, a piece of equipment (KiwiSat Argos) will allow us to follow, if everything goes as planned, approximately over the next 425 days, its progression through the seas of this planet. This will certainly be the best way for his rescuer, Ricardo Gonçalves, to follow the turtle he helped and that will surely remain special to him.(www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=1384 ).
The hope is that Salina will never face humans again, even if it is being remotely followed. Unfortunately, the risks to it’s survival, even keeping its distance from our species, will be great – and many of them will continue to be associated with our activities, carelessness, greed or simple irresponsibility… But, thanks to the generosity and sensitivity of a fisherman from Azinhal, and to the multidisciplinary team of Porto d’Abrigo, from now on Salina can try to fulfill its destiny again – for the sake of its species and our Planet…