In order to inform the general public about the work of our Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, we asked its manager Mateja Zekan and veterinarian Tina Belaj, to give us an example about procedure during the reception and treatment of injured sea turtles.


`On May 23rd, 2021 we got a diver’s report on a sea turtle that was found floating in the Kovčanje bay in Mali Lošinj. It was a young loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) with carapace length 31 cm and 3.4 kg in body weight. Because it was in poor health, we transported it to Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Mali Lošinj. The animal was received extremely dehydrated, malnourished and weak. During the primary examination, pieces of thin plastic were found protruding from the cloaca. Because of its health condition, the turtle received infusion, but unfortunately died on the third day of the therapy. To determine the cause of the death, in cooperation with Croatian Veterinary Institute, necropsy was made, and the main pathological finding was severe enteritis (colitis). Also, pieces of plastic were found at the end of the stomach and in the lumen of large intestine. These findings suggest that the inflammation was caused by plastic as foreign object in the animal’s body, which probably caused resorption of toxins, and consequently, death of the animal`, Tina told us.

Dehydrated, malnourished and weak seaturtle found in Kovčanje Bay in Mali Lošinj

Pieces of plastic were found in the stomach

`Based on many years of experience with sea turtles`, Mateja explained to us that, `unfortunately, floating debris presents one of the biggest threats to sea turtles these days. Turtles mistake plastic bags swaying in the current for jellyfish, which are their usual prey, and ingest them. As they are unable to excrete or digest the plastic, they can often die. Therefore, this unfortunate example points out the importance of responsible behaviour towards the environment for the survival of many species of marine organisms, including sea turtles`. She added that she encourages an increasing number of visits by school groups participating in lectures and workshops organized by the Blue World Institute as part of the activities of the European project LIFE Euroturles where children and young people learn about biology, ecology and protection of sea turtles.


Also, we encounter an increasing number of socially responsible companies which are recognizing the importance of sponsoring projects that contribute to the protection and preservation of the environment. For example, P&G Croatia launched the initiative “Do a good thing” which provided a donation that will be allocated for equipment for the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Mali Lošinj.

Roberta Cirjak from P&G Croatia and Jelena Basta from Blue World Institute

Mateja and Tina had their hands full this year because a total of 12 sea turtles stayed in the Rescue Centre in the first 6 months. In order to improve the conditions for their stay and recovery, we started project `Improvement and increase of capacity of the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre on Lošinj` , funded by the Competitiveness and Cohesion Program of the European Union Structural Funds (K.K. This project will enable the installation of additional pools for the recovery of sea turtles, provide the necessary equipment for emergency interventions and additional professional training of employees of the Blue World Institute, students and volunteers.

Mateja and Tina releasing successfully recovered sea turtle