Conservation

Current turtles in our care

Meet our turtles

Adults and sub-adults

Favourite food: carrots

Favourite activity: eating and getting back scratches

Current weight: 77 kg

Bob

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

Bob is a green turtle and has been with us since November 2014. He has had a rocky road with many health issues that have troubled him over the years. When he first arrived at our turtle rehabilitation centre he had a bad wound on his plastron, which is the shell on a turtle’s abdomen, and he was not eating. Bob’s wound on his plastron slowly healed, however we needed to tube feed him for a long time as he was just not interested in food. He underwent many medical tests, including blood test, x-rays and a MRI scan. He also developed meningitis, which caused temporary blindness. Bob also had not pooped since he arrived, another concerning medical factor. Finally, after three months of no eating and no pooping, our turtle team found several pieces of plastic bags and balloons floating in Bob’s medical pool. He had eaten these in the ocean and they caused several of his medical issues. Once the plastic was out of his system, Bob started improving rapidly. He is currently living in the I&J Ocean Exhibit of the Two Oceans Aquarium. Bob has some mid-brain damage, which means that he responds to things slower than most turtles. This is the main reason why he has not been released back into the ocean. We are hoping to do so soon, however, as soon as we are confident that Bob is ready and able to survive in the ocean on his own.

Check out our blog about Bob, and Talitha who is raising funds so that Bob can be released again soon. #SwimmingForBob

Annie

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Annette, or Annie, has an interesting story, but not at all uncommon for sea turtles. In July 2019, she was found on Noordhoek beach by a member of the public, entangled in an old fishing net. But what made this story interesting was that a young seal was entangled in the net with her. Lucky for both of them the net washed ashore and they were found. The NSRI was called, who freed a very frantic seal from the net. The seal promptly returned to the ocean. Annie looked unresponsive at first, and the NSRI team started cutting the net around her to disentangle her. Luckily Annie showed signs of life, and our CEO, Maryke, was on the scene and drove her to our rehab centre. Annie was weak and dehydrated, and did not eat for a full five months while she was in rehab with us. She also has gas trapped in her body, which makes her swim with her bum up. We like to call it ‘bubble butt’. To try and treat the bubble butt, Annie was moved into the Aquarium’s Ocean Exhibit. It has not cured it, however soon after Annie was put into the large exhibit, she finally started eating. More recently, Annie visited a human hospital for a CT scan, so that we could see whether her strange bum up posture would be a problem for her. It seems that she is otherwise a perfectly healthy turtle and should be ready for release by the end of 2020. #AnnieGoesHome

Read more about Annie on our blog.

Favourite food: squid

Favourite activity: napping – with her head on the sand

Current weight: 70 kg

Favourite food: squid

Favourite activity: swimming to get his food, sitting under his ‘shower’ (incoming water), and biting the siphon pipe

Current weight: 92 kg

Luis

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Luis is a large loggerhead turtle who was found off the coast of Hout Bay, Cape Town, floating in the water. In June 2020, the crew of of a local fishing vessel called our turtle team and were advised that they should try and get Luis onto their boat. Our team met them in the harbour and brought him back to our rehab centre. At first Luis did not show any obvious injuries or ill health, and was strong and active. After a few days, however we noticed a small, but deep hole in his upper carapace. A goose barnacle had attached itself to his shell. The wound was quite deep, resulting in an infection, which is most likely what caused Luis to float in the ocean and offer no resistance when the boat crew took him on board. We are currently treating Luis’ wound with an ingenious lunch box contraption, which is keeping the wound dry so that it can heal. Turtle shells can heal well, but it takes time. Luis is very evidently a male loggerhead, with a long tail. All  turtles have tails, but only males have very long ones. We estimate that he is between 20 and 25-years old and has many more years to grow bigger. Luis is healing in one of our turtle rehab pools and will hopefully be ready by the end of the year to return back to the ocean.

Read more about Luis and his lunchbox treatment plan. 

Olaf

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Conservation status: Critically endangered

Olaf is a hawksbill turtle, a critically endangered sea turtle species. In early August 2020, he was found by a father and daughter on Strand beach, in Cape Town. They called the NSRI, who called us. Olaf was transported to our Turtle Rehab Centre very quickly. He was extremely cold, almost frozen, hence we named him after a certain charismatic snowman. Hawskbills are tropical turtles, so he really was far away from where he should be. Apart from his severe hypothermia, Olaf also had some tissue damage on one of his front flippers. Since he arrived, in late August, he has made great progress. He has started eating and is swimming freely around in his rehab pool. We are so glad that he was found, as he would most certainly have died of hypothermia. Olaf has been cleared to go back into the ocean by the end of the year.

Favourite food: prawns and baby squid

Favourite activity: popping up and saying hello to quarantine staff

Current weight: 4.9 kg

Favourite food: squid, pilchard and mussels

Favourite activity: swimming through his tunnel and chatting with Olaf

Current weight: 3.5 kg

Pan

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

When Pan arrived at our turtle rehab, it was very much in the same way that all the other hatchlings do: cold, dehydrated and in need of love. He had been rescued in Struisbaai, 29 April 2019, through our rescue network and brought to the Aquarium weighing 49g. After being with us for a few months, this little turtle developed an ear infection, which improved once treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately however, once healed, this ear infection kept coming back, even after special surgery.

We do however have a plan. One can insert a small bead, containing antibiotics, into the ear bone, which can help fight the infection deeply from inside. We haven’t had much luck creating this bead in South Africa and are now looking overseas.

In the meantime, Pan is a happy member of our turtle rehab. He loves his little pool where he can swim through his tunnel, nap with his head up in the corner of the tank and eat yummy squid, pilchard and mussel! He also enjoys having late night chats with his neighbour Olaf, the Hawksbill. 

Pan is what we call a post-hatchling: 2-years old now, weighing 3,5 kg and really starting to develop the features of a proper grown up turtle. We love having him around but are looking forward to being able to complete his rehabilitation.

Harry

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

Harry arrived at the Aquarium 21 October 2020, from Stillbaai, weighing 13,5 kg. When he arrived we noticed that he had nasty damage on his shell. Not open wounds, but rather shell rot – an infection underneath the scutes of the carapace. We needed to take off a large number of his scutes to clean his wounds and be able to treat them properly.

Whilst incredibly weak and clearly fighting intense infection, Harry has pushed through- like the magical wizard he is! 

His recovery is slow, as he has much healing to do and this takes huge energy. We are making sure he is comfortable while this happens, that he has a nice warm clean tank, some space to take deep breaths and move his flippers, and yummy snacks throughout the day (he is eating really nicely). Harry has only made one poo since arriving, but this already contained plastic.

We are proud of how this magnificent turtle is chugging along and are cheerleading him every step of the way!

Favourite food: too early to tell

Favourite activity: no favourite yet, just lots of healing

Current weight: 13.5 kg

Favourite food: squid and sea lettuce

Favourite activity: SWIMMING!

Current weight: 7.5 kg

Roo

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

Little Roo arrived in our rehab, with his friend Mfusa,  22 October 2020 weighing 7,5kg. He had been rescued by Antoinette Loggenburgh on the beach in Struisbaai, and carried over 1km back to the car being hugged all the way, like a kangaroo in a pouch!

He was covered in red seaweed, but it was immediately clear that he was a really beautiful turtle. Roo makes eye contact with people when they walk by and gives them a curious little side glance which has made us all fall in love with him.

Roo hasn’t had too many major issues. His blood sugar levels were low and he had some external wounds, but he has brushed off the ordeal that stranded him on the beach and fully accepted the temporary life of the Turtle Hotel.

Even though he is one of the smallest of the lot, Roo has the biggest space, because he LOVES to swim and move around. He is really enjoying squid and sea lettuce, but is also open to other types of seafood.

Our little Roo is a champion!

Mfusa

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

Mfusa is a real war veteran. Arriving alongside Roo (though having stranded in Sedgefield) 22 October 2020, Mfusa weighed 9,2 kg. He had wounds everywhere. All over his face, around his shell, on his plastron- he had truly been through the wars. One of the forms of treatment for all these wounds is a purple antibiotic spray. We have been using this generously on all of Mfusa’s wounds, which make him look like a purple (Mfusa in isiXhosa) turtle!

Mfusa also had some funny mottling in his gut and we were uncertain as to the cause of this. We have been doing a barium study to track what this is (barium is a benign contrast agent that shows up clearly on x-ray). So far we have seen his gut working nicely and are hopeful that it will continue to do so. Mfusa likes to keep to himself. He still has a lot of healing to do, but he also seems like a bit of an old soul. He LOVES a nap (even on the arm of our intern whilst getting treatment!) and the regularity of daily meals, but he isn’t so keen on moving too much or living up the social life.

What a fighter and trooper our dear little purple turtle is!

Favourite food: no firm favourite yet

Favourite activity: solitude, naps and regular meals

Current weight: 9.2 kg

Favourite food: undecided

Favourite activity: breaking records!

Current weight: 5 kg

Arnie

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

Arnie is a record breaker!

This little three-flippered turtle arrived 6 November 2020, weighing 5 kg. From day one, Arnie gave us a run for our money (how many people does it take to hold a turtle while they get injections? If the turtle in question is Arnie, the answer is many!). Arnie had been rescued in Arniston, but had a sleep over in Hermanus before being ubered down to Cape Town.

Aside from being covered in sand and with some small injuries on his head, this three-flippered little turtle was in very good shape. What a miracle and what a strong turtle! 

Deciding that he was going to be a record breaker from the minute he arrived,  Arnie started eating only a few hours after arriving (it often takes weeks for this to happen). He has been enjoying space to dive and sunlight on his shell, but is at this point undecided on whether or not he likes sea lettuce.

We are blown away by this capable little turtle! Go Arnie go!

Hatchlings

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

 

There are currently 22 hatchlings in our care. Most of them arrived at our rehabilitation centre between March and May 2020, which is the period when most are found along our south coast, stranded and hypothermic. Below some images of our little patients.