Turtle rescue

Copyright W.Niedermayr/www.fotodive.ch

In the evening of the 8th of June, the Red Sea Defender was moored at Wadi El Gemal Island. After a day of research at sea, everyone on board welcomed the idea of an exploratory stroll on the island. But the research team had barely touched dry land when one of their members spotted a wild animal in distress. A small Green Turtle less than 30 cm long from head to tail was heavily entangled in a strange oil-soaked orange net with a mesh size of about one or two millimeters. The net, blackened with oil, was wrapped around the turtle’s head and one of its flippers. The creature could move only with great difficulty, and one could only imagine how difficult it must have been for it to feed…

All thoughts of exploration left the team, and everybody went into rescue mode. One team member supported the turtle while another slowly and carefully untangled it from the net. It took at least ten minutes to free the turtle. It appeared to be unharmed, but its carapace, flippers and mouth were covered in oil. Two team members returned with the turtle to the Red Sea Defender and set about cleaning it with olive oil and water. It was not an easy process.

The team did its best to get the oil off the turtle’s carapace and out of its mouth, and after about an hour’s bath and gentle scrub, the turtle seemed quite ready to go back to the sea. It was quite active and feisty and did not seem to have any difficulty moving anymore. And so, while everybody stood around to watch it go, one of the team members released the turtle in the water. It swam on the surface for a few seconds with everybody’s eyes following it, and then it dove down to resume its secretive life in the deep… And so, once again, the Red Sea Defender’s research team and crew members defend the Red Sea.

Maha Khalil (HEPCA intern)

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