Rica, a juvenile Loggerhead turtle as seen in 2021 swimming in the south-western coast of Naxos.

the survivor

It was the 21st of July of 2017, when two volunteers of “Naxos Wildlife Protection” were snorkeling in the open water of Agia Anna and came across a sea turtle resting in a patch of seagrass. When the snorkelers approached her they noticed a wound on her head covered in algae and dived to check she was alright. The sea turtle started swimming but in a vertical position.

Rica, as she was found in July 2017. Notice the algae growing on her head.

At once, this swimming position alarmed the snorkelers, because it was a sign that the sea turtle’s nervous system had been damaged. The juvenile Loggerhead turtle was transferred at once to the first aid care station of “Naxos Wildlife Protection”, where the examination showed an on-purpose injury on the skull and issues in the sense of balance of the turtle.

This is an abnormal position for a sea turtle to swim in, indicating issues on her nervous system.

Since the severity of her condition was great, it was decided that the sea turtle would be sent to the Rescue Center of ARCHELON. The volunteer of our association, Riccardo Trevisani, transferred the sea turtle himself with his car from Naxos to Athens to the Rescue Center and the sea turtle was named RICA!
Rica received the best treatment and healed fast. On the 7th of October 2017, Rica was healthy again and carrying tags on her front flippers she travelled back to Naxos in order to be released.

Rica spent approximately 3 months under treatment at the Rescue Center of ARCHELON in Athens.

Her release was announced on social media and many people gathered to watch little Rica return home after her adventure that could have cost her life. At first she hesitated making turns on the sand, but finally she seemed to remember her home and headed to the water.
Another volunteer was in the sea to follow her in order to ensure she acted naturally and showed no issues. Rica swam fast and showed no sign of difficulty!

Rica is released in front of an eager crowd! October, 2017.

But her story does not end here!
The next summer, Rica returned to the same area showing amazing improvement of her wound. Although she was a bit hesitant around humans, we were able to observe her forage and rest in the coasts of south-western Naxos.
Since that day she had been found injured in 2017, Rica has been coming back to Naxos every summer, and every time she grows and her skull now only carries a white mark of her old wound.
Rica has a special place in our hearts, both for the volunteers of “Naxos Wildlife Protection” and ARCHELON who participated in her treatment, and the fact that we get to swim with her and admire her improvement and growth fills us with a sense of pride and joy!
If anyone comes across Rica, you can easily recognize her from that white mark on her head and the silver tags on her flippers!

Rica’s injury progress. Although she was clearly injured severely by a human hand, Rica has been returning every summer to Naxos.
Such injuries take a while to heal, but according to our observations she behaves like a perfectly healthy sea turtle and is a joy to watch!
Rica in the summer of 2021, hovering over her favourite snack, sponges!

“In our hands now lies not only our own future but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.”

– David Attenborough

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