Endangered turtle rescued by drone from sea off Alicante coast

by Lorraine Williamson
turtle saved

A rescue team discovered ‘something strange’ floating 150 metres off the coast of the province of Alicante. Using a drone, the Valencia regional government, the Generalitat, was able to quickly investigate the situation. It turned out to be a caretta caretta turtle, also known as the ‘loggerhead turtle’.  

The rescue took place on the beach of Guardamar del Segura (Alicante). The turtle was trapped in an abandoned fishing net and could be saved thanks to one of the unmanned drones. These are being used by the regional government to step up surveillance and prevention work on the beaches of the Valencia region. Moreover, they are part of the ‘Platges segures’ (Safe Beaches) campaign. An alert was sent from the drone to the municipality’s first aid teams, and the trapped animal was quickly rescued.  

Rehabilitation and then back to sea 

After being examined by vets from the Oceanogràfic, the public aquarium in the Spanish city of Valencia, the turtle was transferred to the Arca del Mar rehabilitation centre. Although the turtle seems to be doing well, he needs to recover from the serious injuries inflicted on his neck and front legs by the net before he can return to the sea. 

nederlandse orthopeed

Endangered turtle increasingly common in Spain 

The loggerhead turtle is a rare species that is increasingly in need of protection. The status of this turtle on the IUCN Red List is therefore critical (CR). This means that the turtle is threatened with extinction. In recent years, loggerhead turtles have been increasingly seen nesting along the Mediterranean coast. This is due to the climate crisis; the distribution of this turtle is influenced by the temperature of the water.  

Deployment of drones effective, also for beach users 

Drones prove to be a very useful tool for quickly detecting and analysing emergency situations at sea. For this summer campaign, the Generalitat has doubled the number of lifeguard and rescue drones in this pioneering project in Spain. In total, 20 municipalities have unmanned drones that, in coordination with the beach surveillance and rescue services of each beach, carry out supervisory support tasks and launch floats to rescue swimmers in risk situations. 

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