The Italian Almanac

saving turtles

Italian News - august 23

On the small Italian island of Lampedusa south of Sicily, a "field hospital" maintained by a group of volunteers from the WWF ecological activist group gives a second chance to sea turtles injured as a result of human activity.

The local fishermen have become some of the closest allies of the 20-some volunteers who have paid frequent visits to area fisheries in recent months to raise awareness about their cause. "Some of them bring us turtles that they've injured involuntarily, but it is impossible to know how many other injured animals are never brought in," said Daniela Freggi, a 40-year-old teacher who splits her time between her job and the WWF island center that she directs.

The Lampedusa center -- which each year treats some five hundred turtles -- has a sophisticated facility that includes a radiology and ultrasound lab, and an "operating" room where periodically a specialist visits to help with some of the more difficult operations. Outside the center under a large white tent, a dozen water chambers provide a cramped recovery space for treated turtles. In a larger tank above, a tortoise is being administered a special diet to help it to digest and expel an ingested fish hook.

The WWF facility welcomes visitors to its 1,500 square meter (16,140 square feet) center free of charge, and runs a museum that is open from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.