Escobedo-Bonilla, C. M., Quiros-Rojas, N. M., Rudín-Salazar, E. 2022. Rehabilitation of marine turtles and welfare improvement by application of environmental enrichment strategies. Animals 12(3), 282.
Sea turtles perform various ecological services in several marine environments and are considered architects of the marine landscape. At present, they are endangered species due to anthropogenic threats, pollution and degradation of marine habitats. These impacts make it urgent to increase protection and conservation efforts. Protective actions include the rescue and rehabilitation of injured individuals as a result of their interactions with humans and other threats. Environmental enrichment (EE) is a series of techniques and methods aimed to improve the welfare of animals in captivity and/or under rehabilitation. It uses external stimuli to enhance their psychological and physiological wellbeing to promote natural abilities and behaviors. These may increase the survival chances of rehabilitated animals upon release in the wild. This review presents data of studies where EE has been applied during the rehabilitation processes of different species of sea turtles, and its effect on welfare improvement during captivity/rehabilitation and on survival after release into nature. Technologies such as satellite tags are an important means to determine rehabilitation success and survival of injured individuals from endangered species after release into the wild, as they allow tracking and monitoring of such individuals, and determine their location in areas used by their natural populations for feeding or breeding.