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March 31, 2014
Injured and dehydrated olive ridley sea turtle rescued by Park Rangers
After spending several weeks in treatment, a small olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was tagged and released eight miles off the coast of Santa Cruz Island by Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) rangers. Historically considered the most abundant sea turtle species in the world, olive ridley turtles are now endangered and are only occasionally seen in Galapagos waters.
GNPD staff found the sea turtle while monitoring lobster lava near Ballena Bay northwest of Santa Cruz on March 10, 2014. It was entangled in a fish aggregating device, or FAD (a man-made device commonly used by industrial fisheries to attract fish such as tuna and mahi-mahi), that had been dragged into the Galapagos Marine Reserve by ocean currents.
The sea turtle was suffering from severe dehydration and deep wounds caused by friction and compression under the flippers and belly section of the shell, and many external parasites (barnacles and crustaceans) were stuck to its shell. The turtle also showed buoyancy problems and mild symptoms of drowning, which prompted the need for intervention according to the GNPD wildlife rapid response program. It was taken to Santa Cruz to receive treatment and care by veterinarian Carolina García of the Charles Darwin Foundation.
GNPD staff and representatives from the 12 principal marine and coastal areas recently participated in a workshop organized by the Ecuadorian Environment Ministry about the evaluation and development of the National Action Plan for sea turtle conservation. The GNPD is a representative for the Inter-American Convention (IAC) for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, informing the group about the conservation status of this species and the actions implemented at the regional level for their protection.
Ecuador is one of 15 countries that makes up the Convention, which promotes the protection, conservation, and recovery of sea turtles and their habitats. Six species of sea turtle are currently protected under the IAC.
Translated with permission from the Galapagos National Park Directorate. Please contact Galapagos Conservancy with inquiries.