LOGGERHEAD turtles born in captivity have been released into the wild off Murcia beaches.
Over two separate releases, 21 of the endangered species were returned to sea, with three set to be tracked by satellite to monitor their behaviour.
Born in the coves of the Calblanque Regional Park, care was taken to ensure they all reached one kilo in weight to avoid them becoming easy prey once back in the wild.
To minimise risk, the breeding was carried out in two different facilities: 10 in the Oceanografic Foundation of Valencia, and 11 at the Marine Aquaculture Station in San Pedro del Pinatar.
The Oceanografic Foundation oversaw the event, with Antonio Luengo, the Minister of Water, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Environment.
Luengo said of the satellite tracking: “Location data will be collected and processed, giving environmental information from around the world so we can monitor their survival after release for up to a year.”
The loggerhead has the broadest geographical range of any sea turtle, inhabiting the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.
It is the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle, slightly larger on average than the green sea turtle and the Galapagos tortoise.
Adults have an average weight range of 80 to 200 kg (180 to 440 lb), averaging at about 135 kg (298 lb)
They are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.