Climate change is bringing more turtles to the Costa Blanca

by Lorraine Williamson
turtles on Valencia beaches


ALICANTE – A surprising, and perhaps only, positive side effect of climate change is the increase in turtles that come to the beaches of the Costa Blanca to nest. 

Scientists believe that the warming of the Mediterranean Sea is causing more and more ‘Caretta caretta’ turtles to migrate to the coasts of the Valencian Community to lay their eggs. 

Since mid-June, four loggerhead turtles have been seen on the beaches of Denia, Elche and Orihuela. Three of them laid their eggs in the sand and the fourth dug only two holes – a behaviour that is being investigated by the researchers at the Oceanogràfic Foundation. 

The campaign “Here we save turtles” 

These scientists believe that as the water temperature rises, these sea turtles, which used to nest in the region of Greece until now, will gradually move to this western part of the Mediterranean. That is why the campaign “Here we save turtles” has been launched, which will visit 80 municipalities in the Valencian Community, the Region of Murcia, Andalucia and the Balearic Islands this summer. 

Cogesa Expats

Also read: Sea turtles released back in the sea in Spain 

This initiative, carried out by the Oceanogràfic Foundation, the Aquarium of Seville and the Azul Marino Foundation, aims to educate people on how to act when they encounter one of these turtles while visiting the beach. 

Elena Belenguer, project manager of the Oceanogràfic Foundation, urges the public, after recovering from the surprise of seeing one of these animals, without disturbing them, to immediately call 112. At that point, the Stranding Network is activated, which in the case of the Valencia region, mobilises scientists who rescue the turtles and return most of the eggs they laid in the sand to their incubators. 

Plastic threat 

The threat of plastic pollution poses a great danger to these animals. Therefore, their health condition is checked before they are returned to the wild. As for the eggs, they are hatched artificially. Belenguer points out that very few of these tiny turtles survive. Therefore, some are raised in captivity until they are one year old. Then they are less vulnerable to predators and can be released back into the sea with less risk. The lifespan of these reptiles is very long. They do not mature until they are 30 to 35 years old. 

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