October 5, 2020
This turtle story takes place in the small fishing village of Marsalokk, located in the southern part of the island of Malta, during the summer of 2003.
A vigilant British tourist had no sooner settled down to his afternoon cup of tea in a small café, than he saw someone carrying a live sea turtle. To his horror, he saw the turtle taken into the local fishing cooperative’s cold-storage facility, the place where fishermen store their catches before they are sold!
Realising that this turtle’s only hope of leaving the facility alive would require swift action; he wasted no time in finding a telephone and notifying the International Animal Rescue in Malta.
Max Farrugia responded immediately: the administrative law enforcement police were contacted, and within 10 minutes police officers were at the cold storage facility and the turtle’s rescue mission was set in motion.
They discovered the majestic loggerhead sea turtle was being stored alive and, as luck would have it, unharmed.
Next on the scene were inspectors from the Environmental Directorate, who had been called in by the Police Inspector Alex Miruzzi. The Caretta caretta was confiscated and immediately transported to an aquaculture center where she underwent a series of medical test and was miraculously found to be healthy and physically unharmed by her ordeal. Lady Luck had smiled upon her.
Less than 48 hours after the tourist’s first sighting, the turtle was released into the warm summer waters of the Mediterranean, her natural habitat –swimming in freedom and not the dinner table!
Clearly without the British tourist’s observation and compassion, we would have no tale to tell. It would have been a sad story without the conviction of Max Farrugia, the Maltese Police Force, and the Environmental Inspectorate in Malta. Their joint action and collaboration was vital and decisive. It is a fine example of how the general public, NGOs, governmental and intergovernmental organizations can work together towards the conservation of sea turtles.