Sea Turtle (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Sea Turtle

Two endangered brown sea turtles returned to Mediterranean Sea after being found injured and spending six months rehabilitating.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

As enthusiastic Israeli children on the beach cheered them on, two endangered brown sea turtles crawled across the sand and returned to the Mediterranean Sea.

The turtles — named Limoncello and Florida by the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center of the Nature and Parks Authority — both spent the last six months rehabilitating after being found injured.

An examination of Limoncello revealed that she had been caught on a fishing hook which remained lodged inside her body. The hook was surgically removed under anesthesia.

Since then, Limoncello has gained weight, weighing a healthy 52 kgs.

Also returned to the sea was Florida.

Although the turtles are now back in their habitat, Limoncello will not be truly gone. To learn more about the movement of brown sea turtles in the Mediterranean and how well they function after recovering from injuries, a satellite transmitter was attached to Limoncello to broadcast her journeys around the Mediterranean Sea.

A website run by the Rescue Center shows the travels of eight current and more than 40 formerly tagged turtles.

One turtle, named Pinto, swam from Israel to Libya, then headed north to Italy and then France. Its last known location in 2020 was south of the island of Sardinia, the farthest turtle since leaving Israel.

Brown sea turtles, also known as loggerheads, are endangered due to a variety of threats. Foxes eat unhatched turtle eggs found on beaches. Hatchlings making their way to the sea are vulnerable to crabs and aquatic birds. Larger fish prey on baby turtles in the sea.

Pollution and the loss of feeding grounds and nesting areas have caused a further decline in the turtle population.

The Nature and Parks Authority calls on the public to watch out for sea turtles that wash ashore or are seen floating in the sea and immediately report them to authorities. The Authority advises people to stay with the turtle until an inspector or volunteer arrives. Injured or entangled turtles should not be released back to the sea.

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