Head Start Baleares

Project of the Azul Marino Foundation and the Balearic Government Department of the Environment and Territories. Collaborators: Aquarium of Seville
Phase 4:

Head Start project with Caretta caretta turtle hatchlings from the Balearic Islands

In the summer of 2020, three loggerhead turtle nests (Caretta caretta) were detected in the Balearic Islands (2 in Menorca and 1 in Ibiza). This is the most common species of sea turtle in the Mediterranean and, although its main nesting areas are located in the eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus, Turkey …), in recent years an increase in nests has been detected along the Spanish coasts. This may be related to climate change and an increase in water temperatures.

The Consellería de Medi Ambient i Territori of the Balearic Government decided to control the nests. Upon hatching, all the hatchlings that were born would enter the head-start project which would monitor growth and also reintroduction in the environment. Due to the number of expected births and the need for specialised facilities and personnel, they requested additional help from institutions able and willing undertake this type of project.

The Azul Marino Foundation agreed with the Regional Ministry to take charge of 29 specimens and, after signing a collaboration agreement with the Seville Aquarium, transferred them to its facilities to carry out the head-start project there. The objective was to return them to the sea in their areas of origin at approximately one year old. An age and size that better avoids the attack of predators (fish, crabs, birds …) thus improving their chance of long term survival.

Concurrently, there would be educational activities going on in an effort to bring awareness to previous work done with these animals as well as information around general conservation.

These types of projects around growth and introduction into the environment have been developed over the past few years in an effort to improve the early stage mortality rate of turtles that exceeds 90% and in recognition of its classification as “Vulnerable” in the Spanish Catalog of Threatened Species and included in Annexes II (Species for which it is necessary to designate special conservation areas) and IV (Species that require strict protection) of the “Habitats Directive”.

headstarting baleares
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We multiply its chances of survival

It is estimated that 90% of newborn turtles die in the first 72 hours of life. Studies show that with the implementation of the head start projects, young turtles are 6 times more likely to survive

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