A young female loggerhead turtle was released back into the sea at Ġnejna Bay earlier today. The turtle made a full recovery after undergoing months of rehabilitation and receiving care from Nature Trust’s, Wildlife Rescue Team volunteers.
This was made possible thanks to assistance from Lottoland, which are providing a full-time employee, and ERA through an agreement in which they contribute financial and regulatory support in relation to veterinary care and medication for the upkeep of protected species.
Nature Trust president Vincent Attard, explained how the turtle named Lottoland, was retrieved at sea back in August under the Ħaġar Qim area. The injured turtle was found in a critical state and severely undernourished, due to the ingestion of a fishing hook and line.
The rescue operation involved a team effort between various entities, including the Environment and Resource Authority (ERA) and the Civil protection department from an area which could only be accessed by boat, after being spotted in distress by the public.
The turtle was released from the beachfront by Ira Losco on behalf of Lottoland Malta, who recently renewed their long-term partnership with the Wildlife Rescue Team at the event.
In a move to emphasise the importance of protecting Malta’s unique ecosystems and support ongoing conservation efforts, Lottoland also presented a €10,000 donation. This will go towards covering the salary costs of their first full-time employee, Annalise Pistis.
Ms. Pistis will be responsible for administering medication, record keeping and caring for injured animals, at the new Rehab Centre in the Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park, which will open to the public next year and also feature a 9-meter tank to house injured dolphins.
Lottoland has been integral to the ongoing success of the Wildlife Rescue Team and other local NGOs. Its commitment to give back to all the communities it operates in, was recently recognised at the first edition of the Malta Business Awards held in October.
The company was the biggest winner on the night, taking home a total of three trophies, which included first place in the Exceptional Wellbeing at the Workplace and Carbon Neutral Commitment categories, as well as runner up for Best CSR Initiative.
‘’One of our main objectives is to rescue and rehabilitate as many injured turtles as possible. We currently have 12 turtles receiving treatment, 9 of which have been rescued in Maltese waters this year alone. Sea turtles often suffer devastating injuries from entanglement in or ingestion of marine debris, swallowing fishing hooks and ghost gear’’ said Attard.
‘’Our ultimate goal is to rehabilitate and release our patients as quickly as possible. However, we have strict release criteria before we make the decision to send a patient
home. They must be able to dive and rest at the bottom of the tank with ease; they must be off of all medication; and they must be free of infection, disease or injury’’ he added.
Ingestion of plastic and fishing tackle is sadly very common during all life stages of sea turtles. Sometimes this plastic will pass through without causing an issue. Other times it can cause significant blockages and even full obstructions which can result in intestinal perforation, sepsis and ultimately death.
Plastic ingestion is so common that the Wildlife Rescue team often find plastic being passed by recovering and healthy patients, even if they were admitted for something completely unrelated, and even when many months have passed since they have been in the wild.
Anyone who finds a sick or injured sea turtle can reach out to the Wildlife Rescue Team on 9999 9505. The hotline has been a great success and enabled trained specialists to respond and treat sea turtles quickly and effectively. The team offers guidance through the correct process until members are able to get to the turtle and transport it to their facilities.
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