The “Tortuga” returned to the sea at the hands of Admiral Gouveia e Melo

Return took place about 10 miles off Faro

A little over two months ago, a parasitized and anemic turtle arrived at the Zoomarine Rehabilitation Center, found by a shipowner in fishing nets. They named it “Tortuga”, inspired by the homonymous island of Haiti. The rehabilitation was quick and this Thursday, the 19th of May, the animal, already healthy, was returned to the sea by the hands of Admiral Gouveia e Melo. 

It was just after 11:00 am when the Tortuga, a common tortoise (Caretta caretta), returned to its natural habitat.

In a speedboat, about 10 miles from Faro, it was Gouveia e Melo, Chief of the General Staff of the Navy, who took the animal and returned it to the sea, but, going back, there is a whole story to tell.

On March 2, a fisherman off Albufeira found a turtle trapped – and partially submerged – in a fishing net.



Knowing the danger to life that the animal was facing, the shipowner took the turtle ashore, where it was eventually collected by Zoomarine technicians.

When he arrived in Porto d'Abrigo, the name of the animal rehabilitation center in this theme park, the animal was «heavily parasitized, anemic and with considerable electrolyte changes'. 

It was only 3,7 kilograms in weight and 28,1 centimeters long.

Over two months, treatments were carried out that culminated in the rehabilitation of the SeamTurtle and in another story with a happy ending.

Known to the general public due to his role as leader of the Covid-19 vaccination task-force, few will know that this was not the first time that Gouveia e Melo returned a turtle to the sea.



«It's my second time! When I was commander of naval operations for the Navy, I was invited to come to the Algarve as well and it is always a pleasure to make this symbolic gesture, full of meaning», he told journalists, moments later.

Already aboard the NRP Hidra, to which he boarded accompanied by Rogério Bacalhau, president of the Chamber of Faro, the admiral took the opportunity to highlight Zoomarine's work.

“Often they look at us soldiers with sexier uniforms, but these gentlemen are working to ensure the sustainability of the ocean”, he considered.

It is because, recalled the Chief of Staff of the Navy, «the sea is the future of the planet's sustainability and the regulator of the climate».

“The environment is a concrete thing and the preservation of the ocean is the preservation of human life”, he added.

The founder of Zoomarine also followed the release of this loggerhead turtle.



Speaking to journalists, Pedro Lavia highlighted the «support of the Navy», as well as the work done by this theme park for years.

«This is, in essence, a message of what we do in the recovery of animals, of this effort that has already allowed to return many animals to the sea. It's part of our role too," he said.

This Thursday's action was part of the Marine Day commemoration program, which this year is celebrated in Faro.

For Gouveia e Melo, the celebrations have “great meaning” because they take place after the worst period of the pandemic.

«The world was disturbed, we had to be confined, change our lives, but being able to do this initiative again, with the population, is something unique», he concluded.


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação