Sea turtles are under threat from trawlers in the Adriatic. A center offers them a sanctuary

Sea turtles are under threat from trawlers in the Adriatic. A center offers them a sanctuary

Sea turtles are under threat from trawlers in the Adriatic. A center offers them a sanctuary

A nonprofit in a northern Italy port city rescues and treats injured turtles that are sometimes hurt by trawlers in the Adriatic Sea

ByTAIWO ADEBAYO Associated Press, LUCA BRUNO Associated Press, and SARA LEMLEM Associated Press

June 17, 2024, 9:09 AM

    MARINA DI RAVENNA, Italy -- On a crisp morning off the coast of Marina di Ravenna, the Adriatic Sea glistens under the sun as marine biologist Linda Albonetti stands in a gently bobbing boat. Reaching into a plastic tub, she hefts out a sizeable loggerhead turtle and eases it over the side.

    The rehabilitated turtle — dubbed “Vulcano” — flaps her flippers energetically as she enters the azure waters and swims to freedom.

    The release location is an unlikely haven: an area of methane extraction platforms symbolizing industrial intrusion in the turtles' habitat. But since fishing is prohibited in the area, it's a safe place to release turtles after they are treated at the Experimental Center for the Protection of Habitats (CESTHA). The center works to rescue and care for animals injured by trawlers and says its work has benefited more than 300 sea turtles, nearly 700 seahorses, more than 100 sharks and hundreds of thousands of cuttlefish in the past decade.

    Loggerheads are found in seas and oceans around the world. In the Adriatic, they are concentrated in the north, a critical feeding ground that overlaps with trawling nets that can trap them underwater. Most of the sea turtles brought to CESTHA arrive with lung problems, though some others have more severe injuries from boat propellers or fishing hooks, Albonetti said.

    “Human beings have an impact on natural resources and can also have an impact on protecting them. We are all moved by this,” Albonetti, who sports a “Keep Me Wild” tattoo on her arm, said.

    CESTHA is headquartered in a converted fish market close to the Adriatic. It brims with tanks housing turtles under care, softly swishing their flippers against tank walls. In each tank, there's a small plastic cone that serves to protect the turtles from light as they sleep or nap.

    Each patient gets a name: Vesuvio, Bobo, Chanel, Baby Freedom. They come from fishers who found them, children who adopt them, and sometimes from the center's staff for their obvious characteristics. “Kim Kardashian,” they say, got the name because she's vain and likes to be in the spotlight. A form attached to her tank reads: “Yes I'm extremely beautiful, enormously beautiful.”

    When The Associated Press visited in early June, Albonetti and her colleagues were attending to Cenere, a turtle badly injured four years ago when her carapace was broken and her lung injured by a boat propeller. Cenere, CESTHA's longest-staying patient, has undergone more than 10 surgeries. The center team devised a 3D-printed shell cover for her broken back.

    It's “a sort of bubble to prevent the wound from coming into contact with water,” center director Simone D’Acunto said. He called Cenere an example of technological development in the care available to sea turtles, which can be costly.

    “Our center has a health protocol for each specimen which is quite expensive because all incoming animals are subjected to at least an X-ray and blood tests,” D'Acunto said.

    Albonetti prepared meals for the animals from a detailed care plan hung on the wall. The animals get fed once a week, mimicking the way they would eat in the wild.

    As a crab was dropped into one tank, the attentive Kim Kardashian moved quickly to snap it up, her powerful jaws making quick work of the creature.

    Cenere will remain under care for the next few months before getting additional care at Aquarium Cattolica, Italy's second-biggest public aquarium.

    “Releasing her into the sea like all animals” treated at CESTHA is the goal, Albonetti said, though there's no definite timeline yet for when she'll be back in the Adriatic.

    Other turtles don't stay so long before they're released. In recent years, CESTHA has outfitted two with GPS trackers to gather data to aid their conservation efforts.

    The first such turtle to be tracked — Gaia Speed — traveled more than 4,000 kilometers (about 2,400 miles) in the following year, D'Acunto said.

    ___

    Adebayo reported from Lagos, Nigeria.

    ___

    The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

    OTHER NEWS

    36 minutes ago

    Video: Jennifer Garner spends quality time with child Fin, 15, in LA after visiting Ben Affleck's rental home amid Jennifer Lopez marriage woes

    36 minutes ago

    Home favourite Calum Scott, 20, is tearful after following in footsteps of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy securing Open Silver Medal for top amateur

    36 minutes ago

    Who is Xander Schauffele's wife Maya? Meet the US golf star's college sweetheart as she watches him seal his second major win at The Open

    37 minutes ago

    Biden drops out of 2024 presidential election, endorses Kamala Harris as Democratic nominee

    37 minutes ago

    Heat-related Texas deaths climb after Beryl left millions without power for days or longer

    37 minutes ago

    Imperious Schauffele wins British Open with faultless 65

    37 minutes ago

    Biden pulls out of US presidential race, will serve out term

    37 minutes ago

    Pogacar achieves first Giro/Tour double since 1998

    37 minutes ago

    President Biden withdraws from 2024 presidential race

    37 minutes ago

    Chiefs place safety on NFI list

    37 minutes ago

    Dolphins to reportedly host Emmanuel Ogbah for workout

    37 minutes ago

    Piastri wins his first Grand Prix in Hungary as Norris forced to follow McLaren orders

    37 minutes ago

    Trump Likes EVs Now. That’s Less Terrible for Tesla.

    37 minutes ago

    The simple ways to save money on airport car parking – and the cheapest places to park

    37 minutes ago

    The ultimate marathon challenge, AlUla Desert Blaze, returns this August

    37 minutes ago

    Churches are making electrifying changes as 'creation care' trend sweeps across nation: 'I expect … it's really going to boom'

    37 minutes ago

    4 position battles to watch in Bears training camp

    37 minutes ago

    CrowdStrike latest - what to expect now as UK and world recovers from IT crash

    37 minutes ago

    President Joe Biden drops out of the 2024 race after disastrous debate inflamed age concerns

    37 minutes ago

    Picture: Another Kaizer Chiefs new home kit leak

    37 minutes ago

    The best bank cards to use abroad in 2024

    37 minutes ago

    Joe Biden withdraws from US election race

    37 minutes ago

    Pamela Cullen obituary

    40 minutes ago

    Live updates: Biden drops out of 2024 presidential race, endorses Harris

    41 minutes ago

    Joe Biden Endorses Kamala Harris As Democratic Presidential Nominee

    43 minutes ago

    Israeli military claims attack on Houthi-linked sites in Yemen are ‘necessary’

    43 minutes ago

    The Bear season 4: Everything we know so far

    43 minutes ago

    Mel Gibson's Braveheart prop and Sean Connery's outfit to be auctioned

    43 minutes ago

    Rugby-Scotland score half century of points in test win over Chile

    43 minutes ago

    Rafa Marquez leaves Barcelona Atletic for Mexico role

    43 minutes ago

    Debut goal 'surreal' - Forbes

    43 minutes ago

    Man City forward Kayky, 21, emerges as loan target for Eredivisie outfit Sparta Rotterdam - with the Brazilian forward expected to depart the Etihad this summer

    43 minutes ago

    Wildfire blazes across 150 acres, forcing Salt Lake City residents to evacuate

    43 minutes ago

    Video: Love Island SPOILER: Tension rises in the villa as savage fan favourite challenge returns

    43 minutes ago

    Video: Rihanna turns heads in sexy top and baggy trousers as she steps out in NYC - after inking new Fenty Beauty deal with the Paris Olympics

    43 minutes ago

    Russia sentences American Michael Travis Leake to 13 years on alleged drug charges

    43 minutes ago

    Xander Schauffele wins Open Championship with final-round 65 for second major of 2024

    43 minutes ago

    Remembering Robin Williams, beloved 'Mrs. Doubtfire' actor

    43 minutes ago

    Patrick Mahomes launched an effortless deep pass to Xavier Worthy that makes a Chiefs 3-peat look like a lock

    43 minutes ago

    Comedy is harder now because you can’t make jokes about being foreign, says Maureen Lipman