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Marineland hosted the first practical training for veterinarians and managers of sea turtle care networks and centres. 40 professionals from France and overseas were able to perfect their surgical techniques. This major first was co-organised on 20 and 21 November 2021 in Antibes by the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN-National Natural History Museum), the PatriNat joint service unit and Marineland, in coordination with the GTMF-TOT'M Pathology and Care Centres Group. These experts are now ready to collect data that will allow them to evaluate the health of sea turtle populations and the impact of human activities on these fragile and threatened species.
It was at the Marineland marine animal park that the first practical training was held with 40 veterinarians and managers of networks and care centres for sea turtles, a training course specially designed by the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle for the Ministry of Ecological Transition.
This 2-day training course made it possible to deal with very precise veterinary surgical techniques, such as the management of animals in a state of hypothermia, dehydration or listlessness. Practical workshops were held on blood sampling techniques, blood analysis and medical imaging (ultrasound, X-rays). The pathologies linked to the problems inherent to each region, including the ultra-marine territories, and the care to be provided were dealt with: collision with boats leading to fractures, ingestion of waste, decompression accidents linked to accidental capture, buoyancy problems, removal of hooks, etc. The very practical training part of this first day, which fascinated these high-level trainees, was complemented by a theoretical part and case studies.
The autopsy and sampling techniques were dealt with the following day at the regional veterinary laboratory in Sophia-Antipolis. Lastly, after visiting the premises, a discussion took place at the Marineland Association's Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, housed at the Espace Mer et Littoral in Antibes, on the protocols for caring for injured turtles.
For Dr Estelle Rousselet (DVM, PhD, graduate of the American College of Zoological Medicine) who led many of the highlights: "This training is the first of its kind. It allowed for training, of course, but also for the exchange and sharing of expertise in the field of sea turtle medicine. We were able to bring together veterinarians, biologists and care centre directors, with a view to standardising practices and ultimately promoting animal welfare".
For Françoise Claro, coordinator of the French Sea Turtle Group for the MNHN: "This training weekend was a truly unique opportunity to perfect the surgical techniques of veterinarians and managers of networks and care centres. Let's hope that this will increase the chances of survival of marine turtles, a protected species in France that is often heavily impacted by human activities."
"This training was a real success!" added Sidonie Catteau, Marine Turtle Curator and Head of the Marineland Association's Care Centre, "These specialists came from Polynesia, Reunion Island, Martinique, New Caledonia, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Metropolitan France!"
All 7 species of sea turtles are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The information collected during these two days of exchange is very valuable. They will improve the level of understanding of the veterinary care of marine turtles, which is essential for better management of endangered species and for aiming measures for the conservation of wildlife and habitats at national, European and international levels.
The Mixed Service Unit (Unité Mixte de Service-UMS) Natural Heritage (PatriNat) ensures projects of national scientific expertise and knowledge management in biodiversity for its three supervisory bodies, the French Biodiversity Office (OFB), the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Within the framework of national and international public policies, such as the European directives on nature, the UMS PatriNat provides technical and scientific support to State services, local authorities and public institutions responsible for biodiversity and natural areas. It also provides its scientific expertise to socio-economic stakeholders who are implementing activities in favour of biodiversity in their environmental policies.
The Sea Turtle Observatory (OTM) is a scientific programme that collects all reports on the sea turtles that frequent the coastline of mainland France and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. It contributes to monitoring changes in the conservation status of sea turtles in the territory and to adapting the measures to be taken to preserve them. The OTM is supported by the National Natural History Museum (MNHN), which is responsible for granting dispensations to the programme's researchers by ministerial decree. Indeed, Sea Turtles are all protected and any surgery performed on a specimen, whether dead or alive, requires a permit for scientific or conservation programmes.
Created in 2007, the GTMF took over from the "Sea Turtle Group" created by the ministry in charge of sustainable development. It is run by the Natural Heritage Department of the National Natural History Museum (MNHN) in Paris, which provides the secretariat for the Ministry in charge of sustainable development.
It brings together more than 150 members involved in Sea Turtle conservation through their projects and activities, including government departments, scientific institutions and experts, nature protection associations, networks of observers, public reception centres (aquariums, etc.) and care centres.
The purpose of the Marineland Association (Law 1901) is to develop, promote and encourage the conservation of animal species and the raise awareness of the marine environment amongst the general public. + link. It has created and manages a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, hosted by the city of Antibes, dedicated to wild sea turtles found in difficulty.