Scientific programmes

The CESTMed scientific center aims to increase knowledge on sea turtle biology, ecology and threats :

• RTMMF sampling protocols on dead and live sea turtles

Sea turtles recovered by CESTMed are systematically weighed, measured and photographed. In addition, sampled (tissue, blood, faeces, etc.) are taken and sent to scientific laboratories for analysis (DNA, gut content, sclerochronological study, etc.)

Turtle blood test

• Monitoring of the health of rescue centre’s sea turtles

Clinical diagnoses are carried out on individuals in the rescue centre. Based on these veterinarian examinations, a database called “pathologies and treatments” is regularly updated.

Turtle force-feeding


• Research in the La Grande Motte rehabilitation centre

The rehabilitation centre of La Grande Motte acts like a laboratory to study animal behaviour and test new technologies (repellents, satellite tracking, etc.)

Care in the rehabilitation centre


• Impact of fisheries on sea turtles

A work of dialogue and cooperation with professional fishermen established a trust relationship between those professionals and the CESTMed team. The “En Peche” project, which aims to highlight the work of fishermen via a photographic exhibition, illustrates this collaboration.

Real sea turtle conservation stakeholders, fishermen provide CESTMed and RTMMF with information on bycatch circumstances (location, fisheries, etc.), sea turtle ecology and lesions associated with bycatch events.

“En Pêche”


• Satellite tracking of sea turtles via Argos recording devices

Since 2005, 12 turtles were tagged by CESTMed. This work provides information on:

  • Animal behaviour (diving depth for instance) and their spatiotemporal movements according to environmental factors  (determination of migration and concentration zones – feeding and hibernating zones for example)
  • Risk areas and the impact of human activities on sea turtles (fisheries –SELPAL project, marine debris, marine traffic, etc.)
  • Rehabilitation capacity of sea turtles after a long period in a rescue centre.
Tortue balisée
Marked turtle

You can follow our turtles by clicking here or on the turtle tracking page.

• Marine debris impacts

In the framework of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which considers sea turtles as indicator species for marine debris, CESTMed contributes to the collection of data aiming to define an Ecological Quality Objective (EcoQo) for marine debris.

Therefore, CESTMed work consists in:
– Collecting faeces of sea turtles in care
– Studying sea turtle intestinal transit time

In addition, a literature review on marine debris impacts on sea turtles (ingestion rate, resulting lesions, etc.) was recently carried out by CESTMed, in collaboration with La Rochelle Aquarium within the MSFD framework. The results of this study were presented at international symposiums.

Turtle stomach content


• Collection of sea turtle faeces at sea

Today, dogs have already been trained to detect marine animal faeces for conservation purposes. Carried out on species such as killer whales (Orcinus orca) in British Colombia or North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena galcialis), this non-intrusive technique facilitates faeces collection and allows the collection of large amount of precious information on these animals (distribution, diet, stress levels, genetics, level of contaminants, etc.)

Mainly developed in North-America, the use of “poop-sniffing dogs” deserves to be tested for the first time on sea turtles. Therefore, CESTMed wishes to carry out a pilot study aiming to test the ability of dogs to detect sea turtle faeces at sea.

Chien dressé pour la détection de fèces (Working Dogs for Conservation)