The Mediterranean Sea is a large basin covering an area of approximately 2.6 million km2 and represents 1% of the total ocean surface. Rich in animal and plant life, it is home to 7% of the world’s marine biodiversity. Among the animals living in its waters, six species of marine turtles are considered threatened or critically endangered. The most common is the loggerhead sea turtle, one of the rare marine turtles to reproduce in the Mediterranean along with the green turtle. Named as a bio-indicator of pollution in the marine environment, it is now on the IUCN Red List and is protected worldwide (….). The turtles are victims of fishing, suffer the effects of plastic, noise and light pollution and see the harmful effects of urbanization of the coasts, etc.. These turtles, which have inhabited our oceans for more than 150 million years, are likely to go down quickly in history.
Faced with this alarming observation, we wish to participate with all of our projects in the reduction of plastics at sea. Sensitive to the preservation of Nature and the living beings that make it up, we have decided to support the CESTMed association in 2021. This association has created a care center for Mediterranean sea turtles. This center is equipped with high-tech diagnostic systems and can deliver high-performance therapies thanks to its partnership with the Clinique Vétérinaire de Camargue. From February 1st to August 1st of this year, we will provide financial support with a percentage of our turnover in order to contribute to the rescue and care of turtles. We are delighted to work with Jean-Baptiste Sénégas, founder of CESTMed.
Meeting with Jean-Baptiste Sénégas, founder of the CESTMed association
I started working in 2000 as a diver in a public aquarium. I have always been passionate about the sea and fish. I often went out with fishermen to collect live fish for the aquarium collections. The adventure with sea turtles started like that.
Presentation of the turtle care center :
CESTMED is a turtle care center. We are responsible for recovering injured turtles in order to care for them and release them back into the sea. We are working on the protection of an endangered species, which at the same time allows us to sensitise a maximum number of people to the protection of the environment in general. To date we have more than 100 volunteers.
What was the trigger to embark on this adventure?
At the time, professional fishermen accidentally caught turtles in their nets and there was no specific structure to accommodate them. With the help of the Seaquarium du Grau du Roi we decided to provide a pool. Over time, we went from a few turtles to nearly 50 per year. So there was a real need to create this center.
What are the needs of the association today?
Today, we need more space in order to develop our scientific and educational projects and especially to welcome more turtles in the center.
Who contacted you the most about injured turtles?
The main actors are professional fishermen. By-catches are not rare and without their help and participation we would have very few turtles to this day.
What would be for you the positive and negative points of these last years? An increase in catches? An increase in the plastic in their stomachs? A great mobilization following the media coverage?
The number of catches does not change much in my opinion, it is above all a question of establishing a relationship of trust with all the actors of the sea in order to be informed of each catch. The ingestion of plastic is really a problem, and it is not for nothing that the sea turtle has been chosen as an indicator of pollution by Europe. The problem of plastic and its ingestion affects the public a lot, we see a lot of videos on this subject on social networks. People are moreover sensitized, and I hope that it makes things move, that behaviors change!
What are the first things we should do when we discover an injured sea turtle?
It is necessary to put a damp cloth on the shell in the shade and call the RTMMF (French sea turtle network) 06.16.97.56.33 or the care center 06 24 47 51 55.
Thanks again for this interview, a word for the end?
Even if everyone knows about it, I think it is important to change your habits and avoid packaging as much as possible. Now it is also possible to participate in many eco-solidarity projects and become an actor of protection. We organize missions and eco-solidarity trips on board a sailboat in order to participate in scientific programs on turtle protection. Today we can all become a savior!
Author’s note: if you wish to help CESTMed, you can send them medical equipment. You can find more information on their facebook page.