Las Fallas Dress Illuminates Plastic Sea Pollution

Two endangered sea turtles have been released in the sea by a volunteer wearing a plastic dress to highlight the issue of pollution in the Mediteranean Sea.

The loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) were released on La Garrofera Beach in El Saler in the city of Valencia located in the eastern Spanish region of the same name.

The turtles were released by a worker at the foundation of L’Oceanografic, an oceanarium to the southeast of Valencia’s city centre.

Mar LaFuente was filmed releasing the reptiles while wearing a plastic dress in the style of a ‘fallas’ outfit.

Las Fallas (The Falles in English) is one of Valencia’s most important festivals, but it had to be cancelled for a second time due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Rosa Montesa, 56, who designed the plastic dress, said the fallas spirit lived on thanks the novel turtle release.

She said the dress was prepared by her and her 92-year-old mother who made the skirt and bodice for Montesa to decorate.

Montesa told Real Press: “Instead of using gold trim or precious stones, I used waste such as aluminium plates and plastic bottles.”

She said wanted to “show that what others see as rubbish, I see as treasures”.

In total, 200 different-coloured bottles were used to create the flowers on the skirt and other parts of the traditional outfit. For the bodice, she created a mosaic with different plastics.

Painted sunflower seeds were used to make the model’s pearls while her earrings were made with coffee pods.

However, not all the dress was created with recyclable materials, Montesa also added accessories commonly associated with tradition fallas outfits.

The project took around three months to complete and the most difficult part was “how to do the skirt”, according to Montesa.

However, once she formed a clear image in her mind, she was able to complete most of the project in six weeks, something she said felt like a “hobby”.

The dress is meant to symbolise the problem of waste and single-use plastics in the oceans.

Mar LaFuente released the two turtles into the sea after they found trapped in fishing nets and underwent treatment at L’Oceanografic.

Local fishermen found the struggling turtles and called the emergency services who in turn called the foundation.

Foundation vet Vicente Marco said “they were both suffering from air embolism and after a week in the chamber, they were ready to go back in the sea”.

Air embolisms, a blood vessel blockage caused by one or more bubbles of gas in the circulatory system, are a major cause of problems for sea turtles.

Loggerhead sea turtles spend their whole life in the sea except when they return to the coast to lay eggs.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as an endangered species.