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Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign: The first baby turtle nest hatching

Sunday, Aug 06, 2017

After a little less than two months, the nest that had been spotted on 12th July at the Paestum beach resort in Eboli, Italy, hatched under the watchful and emotion-filled eyes of the volunteers belonging to Sea Shepherd Italia, the Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali (National Association for the Protection of Animals) of Salerno, as well as biologists from the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Portici.

A baby turtle leaves its nest for the sea. Photo Sea Shepherd Italia.

Immediately after the nest was spotted in June, Sea Shepherd's Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign volunteers and the biologists intervened in a timely manner to move it 25 meters away from its original location, which was too close to the shore-line and susceptible to damage by strong winds or unexpected storms. Thanks to the course of action that was taken, the baby turtles were able to hatch in totally safe conditions.  The hatching started at 2.00 AM today and has continued during the day. As of now, 35 hatchlings have reached the sea, swimming away from the coast.

A baby turtle safely reaches the sea thanks to Jairo Mediterraneo volunteers. Photo Sea Shepherd Italia.

Ever since last June, when the nest was safeguarded by placing barriers around it and by reporting its presence to the authorities, Sea Shepherd Italia monitored it several times to ensure that nothing would interfere with the hatching process.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society launched the original Operation Jairo, aimed at protecting sea turtles, in honor of Jairo Mora Sandoval, who was killed at the young age of 26 four years ago on 31st May 2013.

"Jairo was a young Costa Rican conservationist who was brutally murdered by poachers while he was doing what he loved most: protecting nesting sea turtles,” remembered Captain Paul Watson in a long commentary written about the activist. “The poachers killed this activist by leaving him to suffocate in the sand before shooting him in his head. A few days before he died, Jairo had asked the Costa Rican government for help, but the government refused to intervene. Shortly after that, he lost his life and public pressure was the only reason why the poachers were arrested. They were then released because the police stated there was no evidence. The poachers went back to jail only because public opinion demanded it, and only a few of them were given a definitive sentence."

Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign volunteers. Photo Sea Shepherd Italia.

Sea Shepherd Italia wanted to honor Jairo as well and, in June, the Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign began along the Italian coasts of the Cilento, to protect Caretta caretta turtle nests. Direct action by Sea Shepherd Italia's volunteers is undertaken in remembrance of Jairo and for the turtles, so that Jairo's sacrifice is not in vain.

The Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign includes a Memorandum of Understanding between Sea Shepherd Italia Onlus and the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, which was signed on 8th May 2017. The goal of this Memorandum is to create a partnership aimed at using direct action in order to protect, monitor, and safeguard turtle nests on the coasts of the Campania Region.

Sea Shepherd Italia's National Coordinator, Andrea Morello, said: “Turtle nesting is threatened by the anthropization of the Mediterranean's coasts. Artificial lights attract hatchlings away from their course, and the mothers who manage to avoid injuries by tens of thousands of ships that cross their course, are too often killed by plastic in the sand and in the sea even before they can reach the spot where they're going to lay their eggs. The uninterrupted action by over 70 volunteers, together with the scientific support provided by the Anton Dohrn station and by the donations of people who helped us, yielded its result. No less than 35 turtles are swimming free today in their Mediterranean. I can promise you that we shall keep on protecting this sea every day and every night because, as our founder Paul Watson says: if the oceans die, we die.”

Special protection for the baby turtles on the busy beach allow them to safely reach the sea. Photo Sea Shepherd Italia.
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