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    The Recovery Center of Sinis, a special hospital for endangered turtles

    With her fins "Crash" touches the walls of the tank, as if she wanted to climb. She floats with a small acute angle in the surface. It will take a little more time to completely recover your balance. Then she dives, reaching the sardine on the bottom, and makes it disappear between the jaws, generating an ephemeral dark spot in the water.

    "We called him Crash because she arrived here after an unfortunate clash with the propeller of a boat, which broke the carapace", recollects Andrea Camedda, CNR marine biologist and one of the researchers involved in the activities of the CRES, the Sinis Recovery Center. Thanks to a proven relay from the protected Marina of Tavolara, Crash was moved here, among the rooms overlooking the magical and slender arch of the peninsula, today beaten by a rushing west wind that lifts and pushes the waves onto the cliffs.

    “We welcome turtles from all marine protected areas of Sardinia. CRES is one of the places I like to call ‘widespread clinic’. All institutions collaborate in the tratment, theNational Research Center, the Marine Protected Area, the Duemari clinic of Oristano, where the caretta caretta are visited in the first instance. We are the only center in the Mediterranean to submit them to the CAT scan", explains Andrea De Lucia, marine biologist specializing in conservation and protected species, and in charge of the CRES.

    Crash is in the company of Genoveffa, Gavino and Freezer, a freshwater alligator turtle. Genoveffa and Gavino suffer from a metabolic dysfunction that undermines the entire bone structure. The carapace’s pigmentation shows that healing is still imperfect. They too, like Crash, get carried away by the flow of water introduced into the tanks. An excellent therapy for the muscles. Freezer, on the other hand, lies like a stone on the bottom of the tub. She does not get upset like the other patients with the presence of Camedda and De Lucia, automatically linked to food. He will wait for darkness and silence to devote himself to his sardine.

    Longlines, propellers and fishing lines tear the flesh. Plastic, confused with fish and jellyfish, creates dangerous intestinal blockages. Critical conditions that can be resolved in a few weeks, if dealt with on time and with professionalism. After the diagnosis and the first intervention at the Duemari clinic, De Lucia and Camedda carry out the therapy, disinfected the wounds with betadine, checking the filtration of the water and the cleaning of the tanks. The "widespread clinic" guarantees space and elasticity of the interventions, making it possible to take care of twenty specimens in the various structures, in case of an emergency.

    “It is no coincidence that the European Community has chosen the caretta caretta as an indicator of the health of the seas, with reference to plastics. 100% of the specimens we host have ingested significant quantities of plastic. I still remember the episode that made us realize the relevance of this kind of pollution. It was 2007, and one of our guests expelled the awl of a beach umbrella", recalls De Lucia, who adds: "We must also keep in mind the other types of pollution, less visible but equally harmful, such as that brought by heavy metals" .

    The CRES, born out of the Sinis Marine Protected Area - Mal di Ventre Island (Municipality of Cabras) and the Institute for the Coastal Marine Environment of the CNR, hosts scientific conferences and aperitifs. In spring and summer, it is open to visits by citizens and tourists, welcomes schools for environment educational days. Over the years, the number of turtles accepted has increased. The reason is simple, climate changes have made the Sardinian sea warmer, mild winters create favorable conditions for nesting.

    Crash will most likely be freed in October, returned to the waters of Tavolara when autumn has taken away the multitude of hulls and propellers. “We need to keep the distance as much as possible. We cannot take them or caress them", says Camedda. “They change, they adapt. It is not a lack of empathy, on the contrary. An animal too accustomed to relationship may go through difficult moments at the release. It happened that a specimen continued to swim around the rubber dinghy that had carried it offshore. They would also lose their instinct for danger, sociability would put them at risk. We, on the other hand, want them healthy, and free”.

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