The turtle has been in rehabilitation since October 2015 following a head injury, a shell crack and a severed flipper due to a propeller hit. Tama spent several months at the Turtle Rehabilitation Unit, Forti San Lucjan in Marsaxlokk were it had to be force fed after refusing to eat. The turtle was cared for by Nature Trust FEE Malta and the Wildlife rehabilitation team that nursed it back to health under the medical observation of veterinary surgeon Dr Anthony Gruppetta.
The turtle which weighs around 47kgs has been fitted with a satellite tracker kindly sponsored by MAPFRE Malta so that its journey back into the wild could be tracked also for research purposes. Tama was released in the presence of 40 students who are presently participating in the Young Reporters for the Environment – Litter Less campaign. Present for the occasion were also a group of students from an informal NGO - Higher Youths that have kindly sponsored the turtle’s rehabilitation programme and have been following closely its progress.
Prior to the release, students and volunteers carried out a clean-up of the beach were they also logged information on the prepared data sheets to investigate the various waste streams that end up on our beaches.
Nature Trust President said that while it is sad to say goodbye to Tama that has been with us for years yet we are so happy to set him free again as a now healthy turtle. We called him Tama (Hope), because when we rescued him way back, he was in bad shape and close to death. Only our determination and dedication of the Volunteers and VET managed to get him back to full health and adapt with one missing flipper. This is a happy day for us all. He leaves me with a memory that I nearly lost one finger while force feeding him, but seeing him depart free and in full strength is a motivation for us all to keep on our work. Thanks goes to MAPFRE for their full support to track him and follow his new adventures. A tracker costs close to Eur 5000 so such support is truly great.
Felipe Navarro, President and CEO from MAPFRE Middlesea, said “It really was an amazing experience, and in some ways inspiring, to finally see Tama being released out into the ocean. To think that this turtle, which once upon a time was found severely injured, and is now able to venture out into the sea as a result of the sheer determination and dedication shown by Nature Trust, is nothing short of inspiring. Now, we cannot wait to see where Tama will travel to next during his long-awaited journey.”
Nature Trust FEE Malta thanks MAPFRE Malta for the financial support together with the Armed Forces of Malta, the Malta Aquaculture Research Centre, the MTA, ERA, Dr A. Grupetta, fishermen, NTM staff and volunteers, schools and members of the public for their ongoing support.
Nature Trust Malta would like to remind the general public that anyone who spots or comes into contact with an injured turtle can call on 99422085/ 99422086. This emergency service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
YRE (www.yremalta.org) is a programme designed specifically for students. The main aim is to carry out investigations on local environmental issues and report through investigative reporting and photojournalism. The goal of YRE is to engage youth in environmental issues.
The Litter Less Campaign (http://www.yre.global/litter-less-campaign) is a joint initiative of the Wrigley Company Foundation and FEE and is implemented in schools running the Eco-Schools, LEAF and/or YRE programmes. The Campaign aims to engage and educate young people on the issue of litter and encourage them to make positive choices.