On the 17th of August 2015 the Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation will release the turtle named ‘Victoria’ from Borik beach in Mali Lošinj at 8pm. ‘Victoria’ was brought to us on the 5th of August by the Mali Lošinj Marine Police having been seen floating on the surface of the water and apparently struggling to dive near the island of Unije.

‘Victoria’ was hosted at the Blue World Institute Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Suncana uvala in Mali Lošinj while being observed by the veterinarian service of Mali Lošinj. While in the centre she recovered quickly despite excreting some plastic fragments that she had obviously ingested accidently. Plastics are becoming a huge environmental problem in the sea due to the fact that they take many decades and longer to breakdown. Plastics represent between 60 to 80% of marine litter worldwide. There are up to 13,000 pieces of plastic floating per square kilometre of the ocean. Preliminary estimates for the Mediterranean suggest that there are around 250 billion pieces of waste plastic micro-fragments floating in the water column of 10-15 cm depth. Plastics are not only a physical hazard leading to gut obstruction but also contain toxic substances that can be released as it decomposes. Up to one third of sea turtles living in the Adriatic are believed to have plastics in their digestive tract.

The loggerhead turtle is the species that inhabits the entire Adriatic Sea year round. It nests on beaches in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. After hatching they crawl to the sea and swim towards the open water where they mature. During this phase they enter the Adriatic Sea. In the northern Adriatic they enter the benthic phase of their lifecycle when they feed on the crustacean snails and shells from the sea bed. As the northern Adriatic is a shallow sea it represents a key habitat for loggerhead turtles. Being cold blooded animals, sea turtles spend the cold winter months “hibernating” on the bottom of the northern Adriatic Sea. As they live in such close proximity to the coast and human activities, we have the capacity to negatively affect their existence. The loggerhead turtle as endangered and the EU Habitats Directive lists it as a priority species for conservation.

The Blue World Institute Sea Turtle Rescue Centre (TRC) is located in the recreational zone of the Hotel Vespera in Sunčana uvala on the island of Lošinj. In cooperation with our partners, the City of Mali Lošinj, the Tourism Board of Mali Lošinj and Jadranka Group we look forward to welcoming scientists, students, volunteers and school groups as well as all of the visitors to the island of Lošinj in the near future.

The TRC was constructed as part of the project: ‘Network for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Sea Turtles in the Adriatic (NETCET)’ funded by the European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) Adriatic Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) Programme. This project seeks to help conserve the cetaceans and sea turtles of the Adriatic Sea through coordinated actions between 13 partners from Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.