A loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), also known as a loggerhead turtle, was found dead on Doral beach, a coastal strip adjacent to the Caribean Mall in Puerto La Cruz, Sotillo municipality, Anzoátegui state.
The news of its discovery was released by the Ministry of Ecosocialism (Minec) in the state, where it is reported that the specimen lost its life "as a result of the use of illegal fishing gear (known as chicas or jala pa' tierra) ”, evidenced by its cracked shell and bleeding from the nostrils.
Veterinarian Gilberto Borjas, collaborator of Fundación La Tortuga and member of the Mexican Association of Turtles, performed a necropsy on the animal together with also veterinarian Ernys Ytriago, who determined that it was a sub-adult female (young without reproducing yet), with a weight of about 55 kilos and a shell 74 cm long and 75,2 cm wide.
The doctor explained that the cause of the turtle's death was a gas embolism, also known as the diver's syndrome, a condition that is generated when decompression occurs at the time of ascent from the depths to the surface.
“The turtle was on the seabed eating, when it was captured by fishing nets, and in that capture the net is raised very quickly to the surface and the animal does not have time to carry out gas exchange and due to the stress it suffers, there is a high release of nitrogen in the blood, which is what causes death. Nitrogen in very high amounts is deadly,” Borges explained.
From the Minec it was confirmed that "when the individuals with pulmonary breathing are in the depths they breathe compressed air, this air contains nitrogen, an element that forces them to make the ascents slowly to distribute this gas evenly and to be able to release it through lungs. If this process is done quickly, nitrogen bubbles up in the body, causing tissue and nerve damage that can be severe enough to cause death."
The first dead sea turtle in the state
The doctor Gilberto Borges pointed out that it is not the first specimen to be found dead on the coast of the state, but it is the only one that is known this year.
He asserted that in Anzoátegui there are records in the last 10 years of stranding of sea turtles in Canales, Lido, Doral, El Hatillo and Puerto Píritu beaches, without offering more details.
Regarding the cases of stranding in the country, the specialist recalled that this year and to date, 25 cases of dead turtles have been reported to Minec.
In the state they remember the finding of April 6, 2021. That day a big-headed turtle appeared dead on the Canales de Lechería beach, Urbaneja municipality and it was a young male in an advanced state of decomposition, 90 centimeters long, with a blow to the upper right part of the shell, which led the authorities to presume that the turtle could have been hit by a boat.
Before, on November 3, 2018, a dolphin and a turtle were found dead on the same Canales beach, tied with a fishing nylon, in a state of decomposition.
Stranding is that phenomenon that causes the stranding of aquatic species in terrestrial areas.
They nest along the coast of Anzoátegui
The veterinarian, also a member of the ProOcean organization, highlighted that 4 of the 5 species that arrive in Venezuela nest in Anzoátegui and warned that all are in danger of extinction.
The four species nest on the regional coasts: Cardón Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).
Regarding the nesting places, he commented that they do so throughout the Anzoátegui coastline and the beaches of the Mochima National Park, where he denounced artisanal trawling being practiced illegally.
Immediate actions for sea turtles
The regional director of Minec, Mayra Flamenco, reported that in view of this situation and taking into account that all species of sea turtles are protected by current environmental legislation, a meeting will be held with Insopesca, Inparques, Coastal Surveillance of the GNB and other organizations. with competencies on the subject, in order to promote a special operation to detect illegal fishing gear on the coasts of Anzoátegui state.
The entity confirmed that trawling in Venezuela is an illegal practice that threatens the seabed, underwater ecosystems and biological diversity.