LECHUGA A TURTLE’S STORY

LECHUGA: THE STORY OF A TURTLE

AUTHOR: LAURA VANOPDENBOSCH
On Christmas day 2020, Innoceana a marine conservation NGO received a call from a beautiful jungle lodge near Corcovado National Park. They had found 3 Turtles entangled in a ghost fishing net and needed help. They were able to release 2 of the three turtles, but the third one was unfortunately too affected to be released as one of her fins stuck in the net was already at a high state of decomposition.

After 4 hours of endless calls, the Innoceana team finally coordinated the transfer of the injured Pacific Green sea turtle with the local community’s help. The staff at the lodge placed the turtle on the boat Falcon 1, and its captain Minor Sambrana brought her to Sierpe, where the Firemen were waiting for her. The firemen then placed the turtle on their truck and brought her from Sierpe all the way to Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary between Uvita and Dominical. 6 hours after the rescue, the turtle finally arrived at the Sanctuary thanks to the effort and collaboration of everyone involved. She was received by the amazing veterinarian Sandy and her two interns.

LECHUGA A TURTLE’S STORYGiven the advanced state of decomposition of her fin, Sandy concluded that she must have been stuck in the net for days and needed to have her fin amputated. Thankfully, the surgery went very well; she was amputated on the 29th of December 2020 by Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary staff. Since then, she has been recovering and eating lots of green lettuce, which is why she got named Lechuga. Lechuga will need to be rehabilitated before being released into the Ocean.

Watch the video linked at the bottom of this page to learn more about Lechuga’s story and meet Sandy! Lechuga’s story highlighted two main issues that the South Pacific of Costa Rica, and the Ocean in general, are facing. Entanglement in ghost fishing nets, or abandoned/lost nets, is, unfortunately, a widespread problem happening worldwide and a lot more often than you would expect. They trap dolphins, sharks, whales, sea turtles, rays, and many more, restricting their movement and causing starvation, laceration, infection, and suffocation. Ghost nets should be removed from the Ocean, but more importantly, they should never be abandoned in the first place.

LECHUGA: A TURTLE’S STORY

Watch the video linked at the bottom of this page to learn more about Lechuga’s story and meet Sandy! Lechuga’s story highlighted two main issues that the South Pacific of Costa Rica, and the Ocean in general, are facing. Entanglement in ghost fishing nets, or abandoned/lost nets, is, unfortunately, a widespread problem happening worldwide and a lot more often than you would expect. They trap dolphins, sharks, whales, sea turtles, rays, and many more, restricting their movement and causing starvation, laceration, infection, and suffocation. Ghost nets should be removed from the Ocean, but more importantly, they should never be abandoned in the first place.

The second issue exposed by Lechuga’s story is the lack of a marine rescue unit to respond to an emergency in the South Pacific of Costa Rica. The rescue and transfer of Lechuga were challenging to organize, and many animals would not have survived the 6-hour transfer process to arrive at the Sanctuary. Moreover, while Costa Rica is 92% Ocean, there are currently no specialized sanctuaries for rescued marine animals accepting new individuals in the entire country.

“Entangled in Costa Rica” is a documentary produced by Innoceana in collaboration with The Vegan Pirates, which relates the rescue of two humpback whales entangled in fishing lines. The campaign focussed on two issues: raising money to create an organized rescue squad in the South Pacific of Costa Rica able to respond to emergencies for entangled marine animals and to forbid all types of fishing techniques that can result in accidental fishing and ghost nets. Have a look at the campaign page!

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