• Annemeet Hasidi-van Der Leij

Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation


Israel's Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation is affiliated with Israel's Nature and Parks authority. The center is devoted to the protection and stabilization of Israel's sea turtle population. This effort is local, national, and international, and we work closely with other rescue centers throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Our efforts include: 1. The protection of nesting sites and nests along Israel's coast. 2. A breeding program for green sea turtles. 3. A hospital for the treatment of injured or sick sea turtles so that they may return home to the sea after their rehabilitation. 4. Education programs to raise awareness in the local population as well as among fishermen, the navy, and sea enthusiasts about the endangered status of Mediterranean sea turtles and ways that the environment can be protected to ensure their survival. 5. Research and satellite tracking of sea turtles in the Mediterranean.

Founded on March 3, 1999

Mazal, a loggerhead turtle and the center's first patient. She was rescued by Yaniv Levy, manager of Israel's Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, in March of 1999. When Yaniv found Mazal, he was still a student at the Michmoret School of Marine Sciences and Marine Environment. He heard from a friend that a sea turtle was stranded on the beach so he left his class and rode his bicycle down to find her. Yaniv found the turtle with her flipper tangled in fishing line. Her condition was not good but she was still alive. Yaniv was left with the question "where do I take her?" The first place that came to mind was the center for the study of aquaculture at the Michmoret School of Marine Sciences. Yaniv loaded the turtle onto the back of his bicycle and brought her there, then sought out a veterinarian that could treat her. The veterinarian he found did not specialize in sea turtles; however he had taken a crash course in marine mammals. He performed surgery on the turtle, aided by a colleague who provided directions over the phone. The turtle had a hook logged in her esophagus and her flipper was gangrenous, and was eventually amputated. The turtle survived the operation but she required a long period of rehabilitation, Alas, there was no facility equipped to care for injured sea turtles in Israel. Israel's Parks and Nature Authority was contacted and updated about the sea turtle. It was decided to keep her at the aquaculture center in Michmoret until she had completely recovered, at which point she would be released back to the sea. Ze'ev Collar, the district's ecologist for Israel's Parks and Authority and head of the project to protect Israel's sea turtles, paid a visit to the sea turtle. There was an immediate professional and personal connection and soon the question was asked "What do we do if another injured sea turtle arrives?" Within a week another injured sea turtle was brought to the center by a fisherman. And from here, Israel's Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center was born. And what of the sea turtle that started it all? She was released back to the sea after she recovered from her injuries. Yaniv named her Mazal – Luck. She was lucky to have been found by Yaniv, and Yaniv was lucky to have met her as she started him on his life's path to help Israel's sea turtles.

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