Le Centre des Tortues - Aquarium La Rochelle

Center
for Sea Turtles

For many years now,
La Rochelle Aquarium has been developing
an observation and care programme
for sea turtles.

Of the world's seven species of sea turtles,
four are protected and can be found on the French Atlantic coastline
(Appendix I of CITES and Appendices I and II of the Bonn Convention).

A one-of-a-kind centre on the Atlantic coast


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Supported by the Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, CESTM's actions are part of a national programme whose aim is to track these protected animals.

Sea turtles are protected worldwide by the Washington Convention (on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora) and by order of the French Ministry of Environment since 31st July 1991, amended by the order of 9th November 2000 which lays down the list of protected sea turtles in France.

“The following is prohibited at all times in France: the destruction or removal of eggs and nests, the mutilation, destruction, capture or removal, naturalisation or, whether they are alive or dead, the transport, peddling, use, putting up for sale, sale or purchasing of specimens of sea turtle species.”

 

Long fished for their meat and shells, sea turtles are now an endangered species.

Life at the centre

When alerted by its network of information sources, the CESTM at La Rochelle Aquarium receives turtles stranded anywhere from the shores of Spain to the Opal Coast.

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On arrival at the CESTM, the turtles receive all the necessary treatment and care. They are kept in optimal conditions while awaiting the summer season and their return to the ocean off the coast near La Rochelle. Before re-entering the ocean, they are tagged with a metal ring and, more recently, an electronic chip, placed on one of their flippers for identification purposes.

Since 2008, the Aquarium has been developing a satellite tracking programme to monitor young turtles and improve our understanding of their movements in the Bay of Biscay. When combined with the genetic analyses performed by our partner research labs, we can determine the origins of the sea turtles found on our beaches.

It is also the C.E.S.T.M's mission to study the causes of sea turtle mortality

Based on autopsies performed by the Aquarium's biologists, scientists have been able to prove that 50% of leatherback turtles found washed up on our beaches had suffered an intestinal occlusion after swallowing plastic bags that they confused with their favourite food, jellyfish.

 

Become an « Atlantic observer »

In 1996, La Rochelle Aquarium partnered with the Pelagis Observatory at the University of La Rochelle to launch an operation entitled « Sluice Observers ».

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This campaign calls on all sea-goers to report the presence of sea turtles, cetaceans and other species like moonfish that they observe in the sea.
 

This information helps us to identify which species can be found here, and how often they are spotted. To participate in the campaign, sea-goers can use the observation forms available from harbour master’s offices.
 

If you encounter a living, dead or drifting animal at sea, keep away and contact the following, 7 days/week:

 For sea turtles

C.E.S.T.M

+33 (0)5 46 34 00 00

For marine mammals

Pelagis Observatory

+33 (0)5 46 44 99 10

or the closest signal station by VHF

 

Stranded sea turtles

Turtles wash up regularly on the shores during the wintertime.

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Why does this happen?
- Exhaustion due to the cold
- Injury
- Presence of a wedge of warm water in the Bay of Biscay

 

When live sea turtles are stranded, they are mainly juvenile turtles still in the pelagic phase (the first years after birth), also known as the 'lost years' due to our lack of knowledge and shortage of observations of these individuals at this stage of their lives.
Dead, stranded turtles tend to be large leatherback turtles, which are easily recognizable, because they are the only turtles without a hard bony shell.

 

What should I do if I find a live or dead turtle stranded on the beach?
« Immediately notify La Rochelle Aquarium.

For live turtles, depending on the location where they were stranded, we will collect them ourselves or will dispatch the closest authorized person to transport them.

For dead turtles, we will go to the site to perform the measurements and take the samples needed to perform our analyses or will dispatch someone trained to handle stranded sea turtles. »

Threats and protection

Turtles are revered by certain peoples as symbols of strength and longevity. And yet, they have long been exploited for their skin, their meat, their fat and their shells, making them particularly vulnerable and now putting them in real danger of extinction.

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Turtles are revered by certain peoples as symbols of strength and longevity. And yet, they have long been exploited for their skin, their meat, their fat and their shells, making them particularly vulnerable and now putting them in real danger of extinction.
 

There are many threats (clic et ouverture du tableau ci-dessous dans pop up) facing sea turtle populations.
 

There are two different types:
- natural (although numerous, these do not endanger turtle populations);
- man-made, affecting every stage in a turtle's life.

 

 

 

 

 

The centre's publications


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1968. Duguy R. Note sur la fréquence de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) près des côtes de la Charente Maritime. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritimes, 4(8) : 8-16
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1980. Duguy R., Duron M. & Alzieu Cl. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1979. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 6(7) : 681-691
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1981. Duguy R. & Duron M. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1980. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 6(8) : 819-826
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1982. Duguy R. & Duron M. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1981. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 6(9) : 1015-1020
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1983. Duguy R. & Duron M. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1982. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7(1) : 153-157
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1984. Duguy R. & Duron M. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1983. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7 (2) : 227-230
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1985. Duguy R. & Duron M. Observations de tortues luth (Dermochelys coriacea L.) sur les côtes de France en 1984. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7 : 381-384
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1986. Duguy R. Observations de tortues marines sur les côtes de France en 1985. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7 (4) : 543-546
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1987. Duguy R. Observations de tortues marines sur les côtes de France en 1986. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7(5) : 641-642
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1988. Duguy R. Observations de tortues marines sur les côtes de France en 1987. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-Maritime, 7(6) : 727-728
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1989. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues luth sur les côtes de France en 1989 - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 7 (8) : 959-960
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1989. Almor P., Raga J.A., Abril E., Balbuena J.A. & Duguy R. – Parasitisme de la tortue luth Dermochelys coriacea (Linnaeu, 1766) dans les eaux européenns par Pyelosomum renicapite (Leidy, 1856). Vie Milieu, 39(1) :57-59
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1990. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1990 (Manche et Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 7 (9) : 1053-1057
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1992. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1991 (Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (1) : 35-37.
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1993. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1992 (Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (2) : 129-131.
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1993. Duguy R. La tortue luth (Dermochelys coriacea) sur les côtes de France - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, suppl. 38 p.
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1994. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1993 (Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (3) : 235-238.
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1995. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1994 (Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (4) : 403-406.
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1996. Duguy R. Les observations de tortues marines en 1995 (Atlantique) - Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (5) : 505-513.
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1997. Duguy R., Morinière P., Spano M.A. Observations de tortues marines en 1996 (Atlantique). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (6) : 625-632.
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1997. Duguy R. Les tortues marines dans le golfe de Gascogne 1997. Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (6) : 633-645.
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1998. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 1997 (Atlantique). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (7) : 761-779.
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1998. Duguy R., Morinière P. & Le Milinaire C. Facteurs de mortalité observés chez les tortues marines dans le golfe de Gascogne – Oceanologica Acta 21 (2) : 383 - 388
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1999. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 1998 (Atlantique). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (8) : 911-924.
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2000. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 1999 (Atlantique et Manche). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (9) : 1025-1034.
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2000. Duguy R., Morinière P.& Meunier A. L’ingestion de déchets flottants par la tortue luth Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761) dans le golfe de Gascogne. Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 8 (9) : 1035-1038.
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2001. Morinière P, Duguy R..& Meunier A. – Les tortues luth sur les côtes atlantiques françaises – Résultats scientifiques et sensibilisation du public. Bull. Instit.Océan.Monaco, 20 (1) : 379-386
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2001. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2000 (Atlantique et Manche). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (1) : 17-25.
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2002. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2001 (Atlantique et Manche). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (2) : 161-172.
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2003. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2002 (Atlantique et Manche). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (3) : 265-273.
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2004. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2003 (Côtes atlantiques). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (4) : 361-366.
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2005. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2004 (Côtes atlantiques). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (5) : 461-466.
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2006. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2005 (Côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (6) : 607-611.
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2007. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2006 (Golfe de Gascogne). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (7) : 695-698.
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2008. Duguy R., Morinière P., Meunier A. Observations de tortues marines en 2007 (Côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 9 (8) : 797-804.
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2010. Dell'Amico F., Morinière P. Observations de tortues marines en 2008 et 2009 (Côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2010, 10 (1) : 69-76.
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2011. Dell'Amico F., Morinière P. Observations des tortues marines et des poissons-lunes en 2010 (côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2011, 10 (2) : 237-243.
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2011. Morinière P. & Dell’Amico F. Synthèse des observations de tortues marines sur la façade Manche-Atlantique de 1988 à 2008. Bull. soc. Herp. Fr. 139-140 : 131-141.
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2012. Dell'Amico F., Morinière P. Observations des tortues marines et des poissons-lunes en 2011 (côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2012, 10 (3) : 353-361.
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2013. Dell'Amico F., Morinière P. Observations des tortues marines et des poissons-lunes en 2012 (côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2013, 10 (4) : 437-445.
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2014. Dell’Amico F., Morinière P. Observations des tortues marines et des poissons-lunes en 2013 (côtes atlantiques françaises). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2014, 10 (5) : 551-557.
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2015. Dell’Amico F., Morinière P. Observations des tortues marines et des poissons-lunes en 2014 (façade Manche-Atlantique). Ann. Soc. Sci. nat. Charente-Maritime, 2015, 10 (6) : 675-681.
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