We report the number of strandings caused by crude oil among loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Canary Islands between 1998 and 2011 and analyze the impact of the designation of the Canary Islands as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) in 2005. Among 1,679 stranded loggerhead turtles, 52 turtles stranded due to crude oil (3.1%). The survival rate of the turtles stranded by crude oil was 88%. All turtles that died because of crude oil stranding had signs of ingestion of crude oil and lesions, included esophageal impaction, necrotizing gastroenteritis, necrotizing hepatitis, and tubulonephrosis. The number of strandings caused by crude oil after 2005 was significantly lower than it was before 2006. We show that the designation of the Canary Islands as a PSSA in 2005 by the International Maritime Organization was associated with a reduction of sea turtle strandings caused by crude oil.
Keywords: Caretta caretta; Particularly Sensitive Sea Area; crude oil; loggerhead; sea turtle.