This little turtle came from the first clutch to hatch in the Region for over 100 years
The light has gone out and now there is only radio silence.
The last transmission from Argonauta was on August 10 and since then his transmitter has ceased to function.
The hundreds of people who collaborated to purchase ten satellite transmission bands have done their work, creating the most detailed data yet gathered to help the scientific community formulate a conservation strategy for the loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean, where the reproductive phenology of the loggerhead has been modified in the last decade due to global warming. The recent colonization of the western Mediterranean coast as a reproductive territory opens up a large number of questions that can only be addressed through the systematic collection of data, the analysis of which is essential to shed light on the movement of the Spanish populations of this unique marine species.
Twenty-one turtles hatched from a clutch found in Calblanque, the first known hatching of loggerhead turtles in this region for over a century, and spent their first year in the Oceanogràfic of Valencia and the Imida centre in San Pedro del Pinatar, being fed on a diet of fish porridge and then small fish, increasing the odds of their survival in the wild.
Only one in a thousand hatchlings will reach adulthood and their lives are becoming increasingly perilous as we choke the seas with plastic waste and discarded fishing equipment and race around on jetskis and in boats, all of which can easily, and frequently do, kill turtles.
Aged one year, the 21 youngsters were released on October 5, 2020, ten of them fitted with satellite tracking bands, financed by ANSE (3), the Murcian regional government (3) and the Fundación Azul Marino (4).
Despite weighing only 1 kilo when they were released, the young turtles clearly relished the prospect of exploring the open sea and travelled over 300 kilometres in their first two days of freedom.
Argonauta and Caretto headed straight for the coast of Algeria, while Bobico travelled first to northern Africa before heading back north to the south of Mallorca.
Arturo (named after the cove in which their mother had originally nested) swam northwards along the coast to Benidorm and then to northern Mallorca, Escipión headed for Alicante after a quick trip to Algeria and Aníbal’s last known location was just north of Benidorm.
Information updates on the exact location are only sporadic because for the transmitter signal to reach the satellite the turtle must be on the surface when the satellite is overhead. At the same time, the transmitter has to be charged, and if it has not been exposed to sufficient sunlight this is not the case.
The transmitters were developed specifically for use in these loggerhead turtles and are designed to remain operational for between 3 and 12 months.
Although transmitters do fall off and equipment fails, researchers have been able to follow Argonauta, the last of the ten to finally cease transmissions, for eleven months, equalling the 11-month emission record of another loggerhead turtle released at one year of age in 2017 on the coasts of the Valencian Community, and which also travelled to the same area in which the last transmission from Argonauta was detected.
His journey has been remarkable, and following in the footsteps (in reverse) of his ancient Greek namesakes, Argonauta has crossed the Mediterranean and travelled more than 5,000 km in the open sea, reaching the Cretan Sea, at the junction of the Aegean with the Ionian and the Mediterranean, where he arrived in mid-March.
This summer feeding area is frequented by a large number of adults, being one of the main migratory passages for loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean.
Although it is unlikely that Argonauto or any of his siblings will be detected again in the future as the tracking bands have now concluded their working lives, work will continue to monitor further hatchlings released into the wild and the programme to detect eggs laid on the Spanish coastline continues in an effort to protect and better understand, the species.
This year no clutches of eggs have been found on the Murcian coastline, despite the best efforts of ecologists to monitor beaches and detect the tracks of female turtles coming ashore to lay.
Source: Murcia Today