Recovered, “Ukiyo” and “Vanora” returned to their natural habitat

The return took place on a boat 10 miles off the coast of Portimão

Photo: Cátia Rodrigues | Sul Informação

Ukiyo, whose name means floating world, and Vanora, the white wave, were the two turtles that were recovering at the Zoomarine rehabilitation center and returned to their natural habitat, this Thursday, May 16th.

It was almost 11 am when members of the Zoomarine team rolled up their sleeves and put on gloves to pick up Ukiyo, who was to be the first of the two turtles to be returned to the sea, by veterinary nurse Antonieta Nunes with the rest of the team.

This was followed by the return of Vanora, by the hands of commander Bruno Rendeiro, of the fast boat NRP Orion, from the Portuguese Navy, the ship that transported the two turtles, the team of keepers and journalists up to 10 miles off Portimão.

Despite being returned to the sea at the same time, the story of these two turtles is very different.

Ukiyo was found in November last year by someone riding a horse, along the Carrapateira river. In a very weak state and weighing two kilos, the turtle was taken by Zoomarine to be evaluated. Wounds, anemia, dehydration and the fact that it was found in fresh water, something that is not normal, meant that it had to undergo a rehabilitation process.

After completing this recovery period, she was returned to the sea weighing 4,9 kilos.

The smallest turtle, Vanora, was found two months ago at Praia Grande, in Sintra, weighing 240 grams. Very weakened due to the storms, it was brought to land by the waves. He arrived at Zoomarine with intestinal problems, anemia and dehydration.

Yesterday, she was released into her natural habitat at twice her weight.

In both cases, the turtles were subjected to examinations to determine what problems they had and benefited from a tailor-made recovery plan.


Photo: Cátia Rodrigues | Sul Informação


«In a final phase, when the animals are already in good condition, we begin to think that they are getting ready for return. Feeding is already done remotely, we have already introduced live food, like crabs, for example. The crab and clams are left so that the animal has to “hunt” for its own food», explains veterinary nurse Antonieta Nunes.

Antonieta Nunes warned, in a conversation with the Sul Informação, that these conservation tactics are important, as they make a difference to the species and «conservation points for sea turtles are always welcome».

«All sea turtles in the oceans are threatened. They have a very low survival rate until adulthood. It is estimated that, for every 1000 born, only one reaches adulthood», he added.

To make the return, Zoomarine counted, once again, on the help of the Portuguese Navy. This is a partnership that the two institutions intend to maintain, as there are still eight more turtles in rehabilitation.

«We are talking about a partnership that has lasted for many years. They want to preserve the sea, we want to defend the sea and, therefore, this ends up getting a little mixed up», says Commander Bruno Rendeiro, highlighting that the help has always been mutual.

The return of these two animals to the sea is also associated with the celebrations of Navy Day, which this year is celebrated in Aveiro.


Photos and text by: Cátia Rodrigues, who is a finalist for the Masters in Digital Communication and Media at the University of Algarve and is doing her internship at Sul Informação.