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Kemp’s Ridley Turtle rescued, rehabilitated and returned to nature for the first time in Portugal

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle rescued, rehabilitated and returned to nature for the first time in Portugal

On the 21st of October, the first Kemp’s Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) to be rescued, rehabilitated and released in Portugal was returned to nature. This juvenile sea turtle was accidentally bycaught by a fishing vessel on the past 7th of July.

The fishermen collected the animal immediately and contacted the CRAM-Q (Marine Animals Rehabilitation Center of Quiaios).

This animal presented abnormal respiratory sounds and some excoriations on the skin and carapace. It weighted just 2,35kg and and measured 23.6cm of straight carapace length. Beyond the physical exam, several complementary diagnostic exams were performed: X-ray scans to evaluate possible alterations on the pulmonary level that justified the abnormal respiratory sounds; blood samples were collected frequently in order to follow the evolution of the animal’s health state (using equipments acquired by the Life+ MarPro).

 

The animal was properly medicated and fed a diverse diet, according to the feeding preferences of this species of sea turtle.

Raio-X para avaliação de alterações pulmonares
X-ray scans to evaluate possible alterations on the pulmonary level that justified the abnormal respiratory sound

 

After three and a half months of rehabilitation it was ready to be released in its natural habitat, with  all the excoriations healed and no abnormal respiratory sounds. The turtle gained 1.13g and grew 3.6cm. It is noteworthy that this is was the first Kemp's Ridley turtle returned to nature by CRAM-Q and the first one to be rehabilitated in Portugal. A PIT Tag (microchip) was placed, identifying this animal as tagged in Portugal, which may eventually provide valuable information on its migratory route. We also placed a satellite emissor with photovoltaic panels, which will allow gathering data for a longer time than with regular battery-powered devices. This emissor only weighs 26g, so it does not affect the swimming and buoyancy of the animal, and it will regularly send information that will allow the evaluation of the rehabilitation success and provide valuable data about the migratory route of this rare species, both in Portugal and worldwide. In fact, this turtle was only the 4th recorded in mainland Portugal, and it is the most threatened species of sea turtle in the world.


Primeira tartaruga-de-Kemp libertada pelo CRAM-Q

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle rescued, rehabilitated and returned to nature by CRAM-Q
21 de Outubro de 2015 - 10 mn at sea Figueira da Foz


Primeira tartaruga-de-Kemp libertada pelo CRAM-Q

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle rescued, rehabilitated and returned to nature by CRAM-Q
21 de Outubro de 2015 - 10 mn at sea Figueira da Foz

 

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle is the smallest of all sea turtles. Averaging 58 to 66cm of straight carapace length as an adult, it may weigh between 32 to 40kg.  The majority of these individuals occur on the Mexican Gulf and United States east coast waters. However, there are some (few) records of this species in the Azores, Madeira, Morocco and Mediterranean. This species reproduces on the Mexican Gulf area, and about 95% of the world nesting occurs in only three beaches of the Tamaulipas State, in México. There are also some records of (small scale) nesting of this species in the state of Texas, USA.

 

Acknowledgments

  • Master, shipowner and crew of the vessel “Princesa do Mondego”
  • Leonor Sardinha

Patient name: Prima
Species: Lepidochelys kempii (Garman,1880)
Entrance Cause: Bycatch
IUCN Red List category: CR (Critically Endangered)
Entry date: 7th July 2015
Release date: 21th October 2015




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Last Modified: 22/10/2015

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