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First oiled sea turtle response training presented in Greece

April marked the first ever EUROWA training workshop on oiled sea turtle response, which was held in Glyfada, Greece. The 3-day workshop was part of the EUROWA-2 project, which aims to establish an oiled sea turtle response training module for the EUROWA network. Sea turtle specialists with long-standing expertise in sea turtle rehabilitation, nesting beaches and ecology from around the Mediterranean basin, attended this first workshop.

Sixteen experts came from Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the Netherlands, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and Israel to attend the workshop, organised by SUBMON, the Sea Alarm Foundation and Royal NIOZ, with the help of local organiser Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Sea Alarm provided training in general oil-spill response and preparation, and presented the philosophy, setup and activities of the EUROWA network.

Divided into two training courses, the workshop included both theory and practical sessions. The one day Basic Responder course included lectures on how a general oil spill response works, and how to organise an oiled sea turtle response within it. The participants also learned how to coordinate search & collection of animals at sea and along the shore, what the basic needs of oiled sea turtles in a rescue center are, how to look after them and how to reduce the impacts of beach clean-up activities on sea turtle nesting beaches.

The two day Advanced Responder course included lectures on how to set-up a rescue center for oiled sea turtles, how to separate dirty and clean areas, how to deal with oiled wastewater, and what specific complications to look for in these species. A practical session at Archelon’s rescue center gave the participants the opportunity to practice protocols for washing sea turtles, where carcasses were “oiled” with Nutella and chocolate syrup.

Discussion groups and tabletops were held exploring how to prepare an already full rescue center to accommodate the sudden arrival of 100 oiled sea turtles, and how to react to an oil spill in a specific location of the Mediterranean basin depending on the number and species of turtles expected at that time of year.

Having gathered the main experts in the Mediterranean basin, these courses were an important opportunity to present the package contents to the group and have their feedback, ensuring that these materials are developed and owned by the sea turtle community collectively, thus better representing that community’s needs. This will make it easier for the materials and courses to be accepted and widely used in Europe and other Mediterranean countries.

The new EUROWA-2 project sea turtle course packages will be refined and improved based on the feedback received and made available for use by the end of 2022. The courses also marked the start of an important discussion about incorporating sea turtle experts into the EUROWA pool of expertise, so that in future governments around the Mediterranean can also request assistance from EUROWA in cases of oil spills where sea turtles are seriously impacted.

If you are interested in attending a EUROWA training course, or in organising one in your country, please contact the EUROWA Secretariat.


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