The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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Another turtle released at sea after six-month recovery from ingesting plastic

Friday, 30 June 2023, 15:31 Last update: about 13 months ago

Cheetah, a 15-year-old turtle that was found at sea struggling to survive after it ingested plastic litter, was released back into the wild by the Wildlife Rehab Centre Project on Friday, following a six-month recovery, the Environment and Resources Authority said Friday.

The Wildlife Rehab Centre Project is operated by Nature Trust Malta – FEE, with the financial support of the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), which sponsors the rehabilitation of injured wildlife and works closely with the eNGO on several other environmental initiatives.

Cheetah had been found on the water surface struggling to dive on 15 December 2022. She was rescued and treated at the rehabilitation centre where she was found to be suffering from an inflamed plastron and ingested plastic. She was treated for the inflammations and has now fully recovered.

Cheetah has been happily released back into the wild today at Gnejna Bay adjacent to a new turtle nesting site.

Cheetah and the Wildlife Rehab Centre Project has found the support of several entities in her recovery process with Sacred Heart School, St Aloysious College, St Joan Antide College, Mqabba, Senglea, Siggiewi and San Gwann Primary Schools and the Green Diplomatic Network which is a local network of Green Ambassadors.

Cheetah is the first turtle released this summer following a successful rescue and recovery with another 5 turtles expected to be release later on this year. Last year 8 turtles were successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

NTM President CEO Vince Attard appealed to the public to keep beaches clean and plastic free. “Plastic pollution is on the increase and is badly effecting us and marine life. We also appeal to boat owners to drive carefully as boats hit several turtles in the Maltese waters and such incidents have been noted to be on the increase”

ERA CEO, Kevin Mercieca, noted that the Authority is constantly working to safeguard Malta's marine environments, through several initiatives, including the designation of over 35% of Maltese waters designated as Marine Protected Areas with plans to further strengthen their protection. ERA has also increased marine enforcement and monitoring of sensitive sites at sea, assuring compliance on all marine related projects.

"Moreover, ERA is also on the forefront in the EU in reducing the use of Single Use Plastics (SUPs) with a ban on the importation and sale of SUPs on the local market with further efforts being implemented up to 2030 according the Single Use Plastic Products strategy for Malta 2020-2030. This also goes hand in hand with other waste related strategies intended to reduce waste at landfills such as the mandatory waste separation for all regulations introduced in April."

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