This is the story of a young Loggerhead turtle entangled in the nets of a trawler, two months ago off Grau-du-Roi, and released this Friday, June 3 in its natural environment under the gaze of schoolchildren. and photographers. A beautiful image for the Cerbère-Banyuls marine reserve and the preservation of biodiversity.
It was precisely 11:22 a.m., this Friday, June 3, when the Fantine turtle regained its freedom in the blue waters of the Mediterranean. A star departure under the sirens of many boats that came to escort the animal to its natural environment. Among the divers at his side, the former candidate of Koh-Lanta Ugo Lartiche was one of the last to be able to approach him.
“It was exceptional. There were all these people at sea and this image of the animal becoming free again… At first it remained two or three meters below the surface and suddenly it dived. Seeing her go to the bottom in this immensity, with the rays of the sun, it took my breath away. I didn’t expect to feel this“, relates the adventurer back on dry land.
It must be said that this Loggerhead turtle has come a long way. Accidentally captured two months ago in the fishing nets of a trawler off Grau-du-Roi (Gard), she was then collected at the Center for the Study and Protection of Mediterranean Sea Turtles (Cestmed) on time to regain strength.
“It is a turtle that was not injured, it was just very weak and had small pieces of plastic in its body. She’s a really small baby, she must be barely three or four years old, weighs 5.6 kg and we don’t know yet if she’s a male or a female.” explains Jean-Baptiste Sénégas, director of this care center created 20 years ago, and which collects around thirty specimens each year.
It’s a beautiful image for Banyuls, the reserve, the department…
As for its habits, this marine species travels on average about thirty kilometers a day and can weigh 100 kilos. “It is a migratory species, so one year it will lay eggs in Greece, the next year it will be on the French Mediterranean coast to eat and so on throughout its life. It remains quite rare to be able to observe it, emphasizes the director of Cestmed. At sea it looks like a small piece of wood that floats when it comes to the surface to warm up or sunbathe.” While there are approximately 10,000 clutches per year in the Mediterranean, this animal remains mainly threatened by accidental captures in fishing nets, collisions with boats or the ingestion of plastics.
A beautiful spotlight also for this 650-hectare marine natural park emblematic of the Côte Vermeille, which has the particularity of listing no less than 1,200 animal and 500 plant species on such a small area. “It’s a beautiful image for Banyuls, the reserve, the department… It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness among the public and children. People need to become aware of what is at stake around this species and in turn try to protect the sea and the animals.“, insists Frédéric Cadene, curator of a nature reserve whose perimeter should extend in the coming months.
A moment of emotion also for Hermeline Malherbe, president of the Pyrénées-Orientales Department and manager of the reserve created in 1974. “We are very much into the living symbol and what it represents for all of us and especially the younger generation. We are on a concrete example of the preservation of biodiversity.”
For the anecdote, Fantine will be the future first name given to the daughter of the fisherman from Grau-du-Roi, and to whom we wish a longevity as exceptional as that of turtles.