Study and Care Centre for Marine Turtles

Since its creation, the Aquarium La Rochelle has been developing an observation and research programme for the marine turtles observed on the Channel-Atlantic coast and has been implementing the scientific programme of the Observatory of Marine Turtles of Metropolitan France and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

It welcomes and cares for marine turtles with the aim of reintroducing them into the natural environment. Its actions are supported by the Ministry in charge of the environment and more recently by the French Office for Biodiversity.

Coordinate and animate the RTMAE

Finally, the CESTM of the Aquarium La Rochelle acts as an Observatory for marine turtles. It acts on the whole of the Channel-Atlantic seaboard. This represents a prospecting area of 4,159 km of coastal line and 264,000 km² in surface area.

To carry out this mission, he coordinates and leads the East Atlantic Marine Turtle Network (RTMAE). The latter mainly operates in the coastal zone within the framework of the scientific programme “Marine Turtle Observatory: stranding, rescue and observation networks for marine turtles in mainland France”, run by the MNHN (National Museum of Natural History).

This Network is made up of more than a hundred volunteers spread along the coast from the Spanish border to the Belgian border. The CESTM trains each member of the RTMAE to collect standardised data on marine turtles. At the end of this training, they are authorised to intervene within the framework of the scientific programme. To ensure effective management of marine turtles, the CESTM can also rely on relay structures such as aquariums.

Rescuing and caring

First of all, the Centre for the Study and Care of Marine Turtles of the Aquarium La Rochelle collects the turtles reported in distress all along the Channel-Atlantic coast. It is informed thanks to a network of informers that it trains, coordinates and leads (East Atlantic Marine Turtle Network).

Upon their arrival at the Centre, these turtles, suffering mainly from hypothermia, undernutrition or mutilation, receive all the care necessary for their rehabilitation. They are maintained in optimal conditions until they are released back into the water.

Learn more about the return to the ocean

Study, analyse, raise awareness

In parallel with the care provided to turtles in distress, the CESTM carries out numerous scientific studies. It carries out partnerships with national and international research laboratories. Indeed, its vocation is to improve the global knowledge on these protected marine species, such as their geographical origin, their age, their growth…

Learn more about the scientific publications

Finally, the CESTM develops awareness-raising materials for the general public (educational booklets, game boards) and participates in numerous events for the protection of the environment.

Working together to preserve

Secondly, the CESTM of the Aquarium La Rochelle contributes to the development of indicators for monitoring marine turtles. Within the framework of the Directive – Framework Strategy for the Marine Environment (DCSMM) and the European INDICIT programme, these are established in collaboration with the French Biodiversity Office (OFB), the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER).

In addition, it monitors the waste ingested by marine turtles by analysing the digestive tubes of autopsied individuals. For living individuals, the monitoring is carried out on the faeces they excrete in the aquariums of the Care Centre.




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