Sharks play a very important role in the balance of marine ecosystems. Most of the species present in the Balearic Sea have an unfavourable conservation status. For this reason, the Regional Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Environment have drawn up a coordinated action document, which has been joined by five private entities
Palma Aquarium Foundation
To develop conservation projects for listed marine fauna.
To rescue and recover endangered species and to restore damaged ecosystems
To develop environmental education and campaigns for raising awareness.
To contribute to the social integration of groups at risk of exclusion.
Since 2014, the Palma Aquarium Foundation has been collaborating with Dr. Adolfo Marco (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) in a long-term study on the quality of beaches for nesting sea turtles, considering the changes caused by global warming.
Climate change is having an impact on the reproductive dynamics of sea turtles. Adult turtles are dispersing in search of new breeding grounds and expanding the nesting range of the species. The Balearic Islands are potentially important dispersal areas for sea turtles, so it is crucial to assess the viability and quality of our beaches.
The study of biochemical markers
The aim of this study is to determine the physiological evolution of animals arriving at the recovery centre through the use of oxidative stress biomarkers. A small blood sample is analysed from each animal at different times during its recovery period. The study indicates that the turtles' high levels of oxidative stress when they enter the centre decrease as their treatment and physical recovery progresses.
Tagging of sea turtles
The Palma Aquarium Foundation collaborates with the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Spanish Herpetology Association (AHE) in the sea turtle tagging campaign.
This project requires the double tagging of all the specimens that pass through the recovery centre, we use metallic TAGs (external tag) inserted in the right anterior flipper together with AVID microchips (PIT`s).
The Oceanographic Turtles Project addresses the role of operational ecology in the dynamic management of the ocean, using as a case study an endangered species, the turtles in the waters of the western Mediterranean.
This project, coordinated by the Balearic Islands Coastal Observation System (SOCIB), was one out of five projects selected by the BBVA Foundation in the area of Ecology and Conservation Biology in 2016. The project, which integrates several electronic monitoring systems (SMEs) with platforms for ocean forecasting and observation (PPOO), is currently being continued.
Accumulation of heavy metals and pollution
For the first time, researchers from the UIB, in collaboration with technicians from the rescue centre have quantified the presence of heavy metals in the tissues of the sea turtles that enter the centre. The concentrations of cadmium, mercury and lead are analysed.
Impact of plastics on Balearic sea fauna
The UIB conducted a doctoral thesis on the evaluation of incidence and the impact of plastics on the megafauna of the Balearic Sea where the impact of plastics on marine fauna in the Mediterranean (invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, cetaceans) is analysed. The Palma Aquarium Foundation collaborates by providing samples collected from stranded animals.
Environmental education, outreach and awareness-raising
We organise workshops where schoolchildren can learn about biodiversity and make experiences that enable them to make environmentally responsible decisions.
We collaborate with several universities and research centres and receive students for internships. On the Balearic Islands, we have a collaboration agreement with the University of the Balearic Islands: every year, several students carry out their final degree (TFG) and final Master's degree (TFM) projects at our centre.
We organise conferences, seminars and refresher courses for professionals related to environmental issues (SEPRONA, Guardia Civil del Mar, Environmental Agents, Red Cross environmental section, Emergency Services, Diving Schools, etc.).
We attend courses, seminars and specific conferences on environmental issues aimed at society in general. Moreover, we organise environmental awareness days and beach clean-ups.