Last Friday, volunteers monitoring sea turtles swimming in the Argostoli harbor observed a sea turtle with a piece of fishing line hanging between its rear flippers and tail. The turtle was seen again on Saturday, but an attempt for a closer observation failed, as she swam away very quickly.
We planned and organized an operation to capture the turtle for closer examination on Sunday morning. Our team met with Peter Lee in the harbour and we all began looking for the turtle. After seeing the turtle, a team of three experienced skin divers entered the water. While the turtle initially escaped in the murky water, it was eventually captured and carefully moved onto the harbour for close examination.
It quickly became clear that the fishing line was coming out of the turtle's cloaca. The most likely scenario was that the turtle had eaten the fishing line some time ago, possibly with one or more hooks attached, and part of the line only recently reached the end of the digestive tract. We immediately consulted with the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Athens and together decided that it was best for the turtle to be sent there for further examination and treatment, as the fishing line and possible hooks can cause significant damage to the turtle's digestive tract.
We transported the turtle to the Rescue Centre with a team of five volunteers and our car. This was an expensive option, but we decided it was better than the turtle travelling in the undercarriage of the bus to Athens.
Upon arrival to the Rescue Centre, the turtle was weighed and left to rest overnight. It is now scheduled for x-rays to determine whether there are hooks attached to the fishing line. She will also receive a diet rich in oils, which will may help the possible hooks and line move through her tract easier. The turtle will be kept in a salt-water tank for a few weeks before its status and the possible need for an operation is determined.
We hope that the turtle will be treated and rehabilitated before the end of November, so it can travel and be released in Kefalonia by the end of this autumn.