The Rescue Center aids about 200 turtles annually. Most of them are accidentally captured with longline hooks or trawling nets. They arrive at this hospital thanks to the valuable cooperation of local fishermen, and support from the Italian Coast Guard, Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza. Many turtles come from Sicily, where WWF teams have stations in places such as Torre Salsa, Paceco and Capo Rama. Most are transported by ferry via Porto Empedocle.
The Rescue Center relies solely on volunteer efforts, from Italians and foreigners. This is especially important during summer months, where they assist in monitoring, with treatment and studying of sea turtles, as well as informing tourists and educating community members.
WWF Italy has a program called Progetto Tartarughe, which has international components. The Lampedusa Center has successfully participated in the efforts since 1990. Here, the issue of turtle conservation is addressed on two fronts. One deals with being able to observe, identify, and release turtles accidentally caught at sea. The other focuses on work done on land: obtaining data and developing techniques to help turtles recover from injuries, as well as conserving their environment and nesting sites. The recovery program involving the rescue, tag and release of turtles caught accidentally in fishing operations, as well as those caught or hunted illegally. The program now monitors more than 5,000 turtles and has had positive results.
A vital and simple aspect of the process is tagging the specimens with special markers that have a serial number. These allow continuous studies to help us understand patterns, behaviors and the biology of sea turtles. The Lampedusa Center is consistently an example of outreach and volunteerism in Italy. It has helped raise international public awareness and has been a uniting force bringing people of all backgrounds together- all of whom are trying to save an endangered species from extinction.
Research sea turtles.
Collect data relevant to the field of biology and veterinary medicine.
Treat turtles for complete recovery.
Educate the local community.
Raise funds to maintain the center.