Spoon, Tapio, Tan, Tarzan, Timon, Tércio, Tazo, Txikia and Tiny all belong to one of Portugal’s endemic turtle species, the Mediterranean pond turtle (Mauremys leprosa).

They were lovingly (you can just tell by their names) nursed back to health by Zoomarine’s Rehabilitation Centre for Marine Species and released on the 6th of July into the Menalva stream in Fonte da Benémola - a biodiversity hotspot where their species is known to thrive.

Native turtles have been under threat not only due to the destruction, alteration and pollution of their habitats but also due to illegal capture for commercial reasons and the introduction of invasive exotic species, most notably the pond slider (Trachemys scripta).

This was a joint effort between several different entities: the Zoomarine Aquatic Species Rehabilitation Center, the Algarve department of the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation(ICNF) and Loulé Council.

Let's wish these turtles the best of luck in this next stage of their lives. And, who knows? Maybe one day, when you are visiting Fonte Benémola (it's a wonderful place to explore) - Tarzan, Tiny or even Spoon might briefly pop up to the surface and wave at you!