March 21, 2023

Readers mail…..
From Damla Beton….

The mischievous Mediterranean seal may have been responsible for the Caretta deaths! A new article sheds light on the mystery.

An article has appeared in the current edition of the Mediterranean Turtle Bulletin presenting the findings on the death of 14 Caretta turtles in the Iskele region in 2020 and 2021.

The report was prepared in cooperation with SPOT, the Eastern Mediterranean and Essex Universities. 5 more similar cases have been found at the start of the 2022 turtle breeding season.

Cases typically include deep bite wounds on the head, fins and neck, as well as injuries that sometimes resulted in the dislocation of the humerus from the shoulder joint. This is proof that the turtle was killed by a very large animal.

All cases belong to adult females. Autopsies performed by the SPOT team led by veterinarian Ecem Kaya, revealed eggs in all the bodies.

At first stray dogs were thought to be responsible as in previous occasions but night patrols did not find any evidence of dog related deaths. Also there were no signs that the turtles had come ashore to lay their eggs. It was thus concluded that they must have been attacked while they were still in the sea.

Reports of Mediterranean seals attacking sea turtles have also been published in Greece. It is thought that this situation has arisen because overfishing has depleted fish stocks.

Both the sea turtles and the Mediterranean seals are endangered species. There is some evidence that the numbers of sea turtles and, to a lesser extent, seal populations are growing in the Mediterranean. However, Mediterranean seals with an estimated number of 400 are still in great danger.

The researches emphasised that conflict between the two species had not yet been visually confirmed and that each and every case was of great importance in solving this mystery.

We confirm that studies and researches on this subject are ongoing and we hope that anyone who would like to lend their support would get in touch with us by calling 1188, the Sea creatures hotline.

All these studies are carried out with the permission and cooperation of the Environmental Protection and the Veterinary Departments.

NOTE: The attached photographs are thought to be of typical wounds inflected by seals.

The picture of the Mediterranean monk seal is taken from the internet and belongs to P Dendrinos/MOm.

Source (Turkish): Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT).

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