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Two injured Loggerhead turtles were rescued from areas in the north of Malta on Saturday. Both had fishing lines and hooks attached, which indicates that they may have been caught on fishing lines and probably cut loose by fishermen, Nature Trust Malta said today.
The first report came in at 5.30pm on Saturday, when divers in Dwejra contacted officials of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA). An adult turtle was brought to shore and, with the help of Rabat police officers, transported from Dwejra to Mgarr harbour.
The turtle was then transferred to the Armed Forces of Malta’s (AFM) P-32 patrol boat, which was patrolling the area at the time. The injured animal was transported to Cirkewwa, from where it was collected by members of Nature Trust (Malta)’s Wildlife Rescue Team, who in turn took it to the Aquaculture Centre at Forti San Lucjan in Marsaxlokk.
A mere two hours after the first report came in, some people who were on a yacht filed a report about another injured turtle off Gnejna Bay. MEPA officials again made arrangements with the AFM. and the P-32 was sent to pick up the turtle from the yacht. The animal was again passed on to Nature Trust’s Wildlife Rescue Team to be transported to San Lucjan.
Nature Trust executive president Vince Attard said it was great to see such team work between MEPA, the Victoria (Gozo) police, the AFM and the NGO. He thanked the Victoria police and the AFM P-32 crew for their dedication and help, as well as the MEPA officials, who helped coordinate the two rescue operations.
Mr Attard also expressed his gratitude to the two rescue team volunteers Graziella Cavlan and JD Farrugia, who arrived in Cirkewwa within a matter of minutes to recover the turtles, and personnel from the Aquaculture Centre at San Lucjan for their help.
Both turtles are currently at the centre and will be placed under the medical care of veterinary surgeon Anthony Grupetta. He will be assisted by Wildlife Rescue Team volunteers helping with the rehabilitation process of injured turtles, which will eventually be released back to the wild.
This is not the first time that the AFM has assisted in the rescue of injured turtles. In fact, a turtle that had been rescued by the AFM was released to its natural habitat from Gnejna Bay.
Despite being great travellers, marine turtles are under threat from fishing fleets. They get entangled in fishing lines, swallow hooks and plastic waste, and encounter other difficulties that could have fatal consequences unless they are taken to the rehabilitation centre for treatment.
Nature Trust (Malta) is currently campaigning to collect funds to set up the first Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Malta, which will cost close to €800,000. This centre will form part of the Xrobb L-Ghagin phase two project.
The NGO has an established Wildlife Rescue Team, whose members are covered by MEPA permits to rescue marine turtles and hedgehogs, and are on call on a 24/7 basis.