Eighteen sea turtles were released back into the sea at Beit Yannai beach next to Netanya on Friday, as the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center held its annual sea turtle release event on International Sea Turtle Day.
The 17 brown sea turtles and one rare green sea turtle underwent rehabilitation at the Nature and Parks Authority’s rescue center after they washed up on shore last winter.
“The return of turtles to nature is always an exciting and happy day after months of rehabilitation,” explained Dr. Yaniv Levy, director of the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center at the Nature and Parks Authority.
“Sea turtles are of enormous importance in maintaining the ecological balance in the Mediterranean and unfortunately all the reasons they are in danger of extinction are results of human actions: Fishing, throwing waste into the sea, explosions, boats and more. We have a great responsibility for nature and it is important that we take care of it, we will make sure not to throw waste in the sea and on land and not to leave fishing nets in the water and you should let us know if you come across an injured turtle,” Levy added.
Despite living in the sea, turtles can wash up on shore
The turtles had washed ashore during winter storms on beaches across Israel. While turtles are good swimmers, they can float and easily wash ashore if they are injured, which can happen through accidental fishing, boat collisions, entanglement in plastic waste and more.
Luckily they were found by caring passersby and were transported to the sea turtle rescue center for treatment. There, the sea creatures were examined by the team of caregivers of the rescue center, including undergoing blood tests, ultrasounds and CT diagnoses.
If needed, the turtles received fluids, antibiotics, vitamins and iron. Before being released back into the wild, they were rehabilitated in pools of seawater kept at a constant temperature, while receiving the appropriate food, periodic cleanings and weighings and a close medical follow-up. When the caretakers see that the turtles have recovered and gained weight, the turtles are ready to go back to the sea.
Some of the turtles are released into the sea with a satellite transmitter on their shell so that researchers can gain more knowledge about the movement of the sea turtle population in the Mediterranean, and how sea turtles function after they are rehabilitated from injuries and return to their natural environment.
The turtles with satellite transmitters regularly broadcast their location. Readers can follow the turtles’ journeys throughout the Mediterranean live at this link: https://www.seaturtles.parks.org.il/trackingproject.
The brown turtles released back into the sea were named Herzl, Ness, Lucky, Eliran, Sammy, Sasha, Sari, Renana, Ziyonna, Ana’aref, Paradise, Ahava, Molins, Tom, Helfon and Barbara, and the green turtle was named Hans.
If you find a sea turtle washed up on the shore or see one floating on the waves, you should report immediately to the hotline of the Nature and Parks Authority by calling *3639. Please stay with the turtle until an inspector arrives or bring the turtle to the rescue center after reporting.
In case you find a sea turtle entangled in waste, do not remove the waste and do not release the turtle back into the sea. In that case, the turtle needs medical treatment at the rescue center.