The aquarium is in the frontline of marine animal rescue. | Archive

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In 2021, the Palma Aquarium Rescue Centre attended to 116 turtles, cetaceans and sharks that were injured, diseased or stranded.

There were 74 turtles, mainly the loggerhead turtle and green turtle. Twenty of these were returned to the sea, 43 having been in Mallorca, eleven in Minorca, nine in Ibiza and a further eleven in Formentera. Of 34 cetaceans, there were six different species, 18 in Mallorca, five in both Minorca and Ibiza and six in Formentera.

As for sharks, there were eight - two in Mallorca, two in Minorca and four in Ibiza. This was the highest number since 2014, which was when the Palma Aquarium Foundation assumed responsibility for rescue. In total since 2014, there have been 403 turtles, 277 cetaceans and 39 sharks. Of these, 145 turtles have been cared for in cooperation with the Anicura Aragó Veterinary Hospital in Palma. Care and rehabilitation for cetaceans and sharks has been coordinated by the Rescue and Recovery Centre.

The most common causes of suffering by marine animals are impacts with vessels, marine litter and fishing gear, which drift in the sea and represent deadly traps. The ingestion of plastics can also be a direct cause of death.

Another factor is the use of illegal nets such as driftnets, which have been banned in Spain since 2002. The aquarium rescue team has carried out three operations involving sperm whales over the past two years, two of these calves, because of entanglement in drifting nets.

Climate change is a further factor, due to the variation in water temperature and alterations in the distribution of the food chain of the largest predators, such as cetaceans, sharks or turtles.

Although the aquarium is currently closed to the public, the work of the rescue centre is unaffected.