Once again a human chain was set up to rescue another injured rare sea creature. A female loggerhead turtle, approximately 20 years of age, was found last Thursday in the Maganitis area of Ikaria. Tragically its frontal fin had been amputated due to entanglement in marine debris. Following commendable efforts by the locals who spotted her, by the Agios Kirikos and Evdilos port police, and the veterinarian, Dr. Theodorakis, who administered first aid, the turtle managed to pull through and survive. It was then transported to the Archipelagos research base in Samos. Here we were able to care for the turtle with the help of vet Dr. Karaminas. Yesterday she traveled via ship to Piraeus where she was collected by the Centre for the Protection of Sea Turtles “Archelon” for further expert treatment and rehabilitation.
It is worth pointing out that the help of the crew of the ship “Nisos Mikonos” was invaluable. The crew and management of Hellenic Seaways have shown time and time again their sensitivity when it comes to protecting our seas and the creatures that live in them. This cannot be stressed enough, as over the past 3 years, during which this particular company did not have regular ship routes to and from the eastern Aegean, we have faced countless problems from the other shipping company. Ferry boat companies notorious for their shortcomings in their ships quality and maintenance, constant breakdowns and general bad service however had no qualms about following to the letter the labyrinthine bureaucratic procedure regarding the transport of injured animals. As a result there have even been cases of animals dying of asphyxiation from car fume poisoning because of improper and frankly inhumane transportation within the vehicle hub of ships. Other animals have simply been denied transportation altogether, leading to easily preventable deaths or having to go through a multitude of different islands to their final destination instead of traveling directly to receive much needed expert care in specialized centers.
In the Archipelagos research base we receive dozens of injured animals on a monthly basis, sea animals, as well birds and small land mammals. We either care for these ourselves or in cases where expert care is required, after administering first aid, we forward them to specialized places which are usually located in Athens.
This week alone, apart from the sea turtle, we have had to deal with two more incidents of injured endangered sea animals (a monk seal and a dolphin) as well as two injured birds. The increased occurrence of such cases in Samos and the surrounding area is partly due to its special geographical location and the confluence of many strong ocean currents. Samos also has a vast coastline and is a highly important crossing for many species of migratory birds and sea mammals (whales and dolphins).
The fact that so many local people are actively assisting with rescue missions of injured wild animals such as the one described earlier, helps to reinforce our fundamental belief: that people who live close with nature, even if they sometimes don’t realize it, have an acute and innate ecological sense of responsibility. It is a pity that this trait is sometimes overshadowed by misinformation by self-proclaimed experts. Working with these people raises our hopes that island communities, and rural communities in general can have a massively positive impact on our struggle to protect the rare natural wealth characteristic of our land.