2010 - Not a Good Year for Turtles
Our waters are home to four different species of turtles, all of which are protected by EU law and Gibraltar's Protection Ordinance. While we usually see some 30 to 40 throughout the groups per year while being out on the boat, in 2010 we did not even see a dozen.
The Green sea turtle (chelonia mydas), the Loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta), the Leatherback sea turtle (dermochelys coriacea) and the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (lepidochelys kempii) all usually pass through Gibraltarian waters via the Strait. Invariably, we have seen brief glimpses of many of these reptiles on or below the surface before they took off.
In 2010 we have only spotted four green turtles, two loggerhead turtles and none of the other turtles at all.
We also came across five dead loggerhead turtles washed ashore. Due to their decomposing state we could not determine the reason of their deaths, as our charity does not have any facilities to carry out autopsies when animals are in this condition.
Some turtles get to close to the shoreline and simply are not strong enough to carry themselves back to sea. Others die entangled in fishing nets and lines, either of their injuries or consequently drown when pulled under water.
We can only speculate, whether the populations are going down in numbers, whether they have chosen other habitats or whether we simply did not see them.
This year we have not come across a single turtle, yet, but is still early days for this season.