Treating turtles' decompression sickness in Spain

·2-min read
The turtle clinic in Valencia, Spain

Divers and turtles have one thing in common: decompression sickness. When caught in the nets of fishermen, turtles are at risk of dying due to an overly quick ascent to the surface. So the Fondation Oceanográfic in Valencia, Spain has developed a system for taking these turtles in and treating them after these fishing accidents. We take a closer look at this process in our feature "Protecting the planet one step at a time" in partnership with the NGO Energy Observer Solutions.

Welcome to Valencia and the largest aquarium in Europe, which is home to the Fondation Oceanográfic. Four researchers have set up a clinic there to rescue turtles caught up in fishing nets.

Global warming causes upset among the turtle population

For some years, Spain has seen an influx of loggerhead turtles along its shores. With rising temperatures in the Mediterranean, the nesting area for these creatures has gradually shifted across from Greece and Turkey to Spain. With the resulting increase in turtles in Spanish waters, the fishermen are finding an increasing number of these creatures in their nets. Indeed, the turtles surface too quickly and end up suffering from decompression sickness, and the human population does not always know how to react to them when they are disoriented. The Fondation Oceanográfic in Valencia was the first to highlight this issue, which results in the demise of a great many of these creatures.

A special clinic

To deal with this situation, the clinic's scientists have invested in a hyperbaric chamber. The chamber enables the team to artificially lower them back down to a depth of water their bodies can cope with. Using this device, the turtles can be completely cured after a period of 12 to 18 hours. Since 2016, the Foundation has rescued around a hundred turtles a year. By raising awareness about their plight and issuing an emergency number for people to call, their rescue process is becoming increasingly effective. Before being released back into the wild, turtles are tagged so as to track their movements in real time and predict where the next egg-laying event will occur.

Energy Observer is the name of the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel to be self-sufficient in energy, advocating and serving as a laboratory for ecological transition. Criss-crossing the oceans without air or noise pollution for marine ecosystems, Energy Observer sets out to meet women and men who devote their energy to creating sustainable solutions for a more harmonious world. Find out more: https://www.energy-observer.media/en/solutions .