To the rescue of the loggerhead sea turtle

The Andalusian coast is a refuge, a pantry and sometimes even the nest of the always enigmatic sea turtles. The most frequent species, known as the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). The bad thing is that both are at risk. Both are classified as Vulnerable to Extinction, according to the red list of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), although the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) has it worse, which occasionally walks through the Strait and It is currently listed as Endangered. In the last 10 years, more than 1,300 strandings of these turtles, especially the caretta, have been recorded on the Andalusian coast, according to data from the Program for the Sustainable Management of the Andalusian Marine Environment, mainly in the Atlantic area of ​​Andalusia (the Gulf of Cadiz ). Added to these strandings are entanglements, ingestion of marine debris, boat collisions or interactions with fishing gear, dangers faced every day by animals that, yes, have an incredible ability to adapt. The recovery success of stranded sea turtles is 75%, a figure that encourages the chances of success of the ‘SOS Caretta: Fishermen for Biodiversity’ project, an initiative of the ‘Man and Territory’ (HyT) association that, in the hand of Fundación Cepsa, aims to promote the rescue of the loggerhead turtle and other species, in addition to working to obtain data on the location of specimens and other aspects such as their interaction with marine debris.

In addition to actions aimed at training and raising awareness in the fishing sector, the project includes the development of initiatives with schoolchildren and the general public. The project has the institutional support of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITERD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Junta de Andalucía, although both Hombre y Territorio and Fundación Cepsa continue to seek new supporters both institutions and academics in the provinces of Cádiz and Huelva, whose fishermen are increasingly involved: so far the Virgen del Carmen Fishermen’s Guild of Isla Cristina, the Island Association of Fishing Shipowners, the Guild of Santo Cristo del Mar Fishermen from Punta Umbría, the Northwest Coast Fishing Local Action Group, the Sanlúcar de Barrameda Fishermen’s Guild and the Tarifa Fishermen’s Guild.

The project aims to promote in Andalusia, based on previous experiences, and from a local scale, a closer relationship between the different actors involved in the conservation and rescue of sea turtles, with special relevance to the fishing sector, not in vain the possibility of rescue of sea turtles in the sea, either due to the sighting of injured specimens, entangled with marine debris or by direct interaction with fishing gear, make the fishing sector a protagonist in the recovery of these threatened species.

The proposal has the experience of the Turtle on Board Project, coordinated by the Doñana Biological Station (CSIC), which in 2014 promoted an idea that shares objectives with this project in the Communities of Andalusia and Murcia. Currently, the Board, prior activation of emergency protocol 112, develops the work of recovering sea turtles that are rescued by fishermen. This activity is carried out by a specialist team that works at the Center for Management of the Marine Environment of the Strait (CEGMA). The Aula del Mar (Málaga) participates in this work as a collaborating center. In the province of Almería, the NGO Equinac is currently managing the rescue of sea turtles.

Another of the objectives of the ‘SOS CARETTA’ project is also to improve scientific knowledge of the species through its migratory routes. Thanks to the support of the Cepsa Foundation, and in collaboration with the Junta de Andalucía and the staff of CEGMA Algeciras and Seashore Environment and Fauna, 3 satellite transmitters have been installed on two rescued turtles to learn about the migratory routes of the released specimens. The data on how and when Bonanza, Miriam and Adelina move, as they are called, are processed in collaboration with experts and research groups and will serve to broaden national knowledge about sea turtles on our coasts. In addition, following the daily life of these traveling turtles is possible for anyone thanks to an interactive map available on the project website (

To the rescue of the loggerhead sea turtle