How to Save a Turtle
Usually, the Lampedusa Center receives a phone call with news of a captured sea turtle. There is also an occasional surprise delivery to the center itself, either in a basin or simply wrapped in a wet towel. It is not always clear what the turtle’s health problem is, but all turtles caught during fishing activities or that are slow enough to be captured, are certainly deserving of the Rescue Center’s attention.
It is always disheartening when a turtle is returned to the sea by fisherman when caught, because their exterior seems healthy. If the seemingly healthy turtle had been struggling in nets for an extended period of time underwater, it could result in drowning or severe lung problems. Other common, but not always noticeable injuries include internal bleeding, the presence of plastic bags in the digestive tract, or a hook or line in their gut. These cause slow, painful and often starvation-related deaths.The turtle may also be suffering from an infection or pneumonia.
The past 10 years have seen great strides in veterinary medicine and turtle care, due to the support of many who have followed proper 'turtle protocol . This is thanks in part to experiments and projects done in the Lampedusa Rescue Center as well as other locations that are run, for example, the WWF.
What to do if you find a turtle:
If you find a sea turtle in Lampedusa, please do not hesitate to contact the Rescue Center (+39 338 21 98 533). We cannot always go get the turtle ourselves (we usually depend on fishermen delivering the turtle), but a call will help us determine the gravity of the situation.
If you happen to find a turtle it is important to check for blood in the mouth (beware of your fingers), external injuries, noticeable strange behavior, immobility in flippers, or inability to swim quickly. Do not touch the turtle or try to relocate it, rather make space around it and cover it with a wet towel. Please contact us, the WWF, or local Authorities ASAP, as the turtle's life may depend of you!