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Conservation

Current turtles in our care

Meet our turtles

Adults and sub-adults

The turtle hospital is often the temporary home of large, stranded sea turtles. Here are a few examples of recent rehab clinic patients.

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 raised more than R10 000 so that Bob can be released in the near future. Another blog about Bob details how we are preparing him be release-ready through enrichment programmes. 

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 was slow, as he had much healing to do and this takes huge energy. After 8 months, Harry was finally looking and feeling much better, which meant that he could join his other turtle friend, Bob, in the I&J Ocean Exhibit. 

We have done some scans on Harry, and it turns out that he has permanent damage to his left side of the brain. This has led to Harry having imparied vision in his right eye. But, this is not stopping Harry from being a very capable green turtle, and for this reason he will be released back into the ocean at the end of this year, together with Litchi!

Favourite food: not eating enough to know for sure

Favourite activity: totally obsessed with scratches

Current weight: 13.5 kg

Favourite food: squid, pilchard and mussels

Favourite activity: swimming through his tunnel and being big brother to the little hatchlings

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! 

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.

Litchi

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

On 22 February 2021, we received a 7 kg green turtle from De Hoop Nature reserve. It had been found by guests at one of the lodges in the reserve and was kindly, and quickly, driven through to us.

When Litchi arrived she was in very good body condition, showing no signs of dehydration, but had many marine leeches attached to her! There were small leeches in her nose and many larger leeches around her tail and back flippers. Added to this were many mats of leech eggs across her body.

A little bit of research revealed that there are only two species of marine leech that live on sea turtles, and that they are very easy to tell apart (Ozonbranchus branchiatus has 7 gills and Ozobranchus margoi has 5 gills). We were therefore able to identify that Litchi was acting as host to Ozobranchus margoi. Leeches suck the blood from turtles (which left Litchi quite anaemic), but they are also vectors for viruses, most commonly Fibropapilloma (herpes virus).

Thankfully though there is no indication that Litchi has this virus (it usually presents externally with the growth of tumours). 

Litchi has responded to her rehab process very well – she is swimming, passing faeces and eating well. She isn’t however out of the woods – like one of our released turtles Annie, Litchi swims with bubble butt. Her body also sits quite high off the ground and we realised that this was because of a case of pneumonia in one of her lungs. 

We are very happy to announce that the pneumonia has cleared up, and that Litchi is ready for release at the end of 2021! 

Favourite food: Litchi quite likes a bit of a buffet, including squid, mussel, pilchard and prawn!

Favourite activity: Litchi loves a giving her tail lots of air and practising her handstands, she also enjoys resting on her blue tunnel.

Current weight: 7.3 kg

Favourite food: crabs

Favourite activity: sleeping in (she is clearly a night owl)

Current weight: 50 kg

Nobomvu

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

On 13 July 2021, in Gaansbaai, a loggerhead turtle was rescued, having been stranded in ghost fishing gear. Through the effforts of Tracy, our Rescue Network Co-ordinator, APSS (African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary) and many other helpers made sure that this turtle arrived at our rehabilitation centre only four hours after she was found.

A 50kg female loggerhead, this turtle was in pretty good body condition, with a few markings and sunburn on her shell. She did though have an unusually red colouration, leading to her being named Nobomvu (‘red lady’ in isiXhosa). Nobomvu loves eating crabs, and all things crunchy, and she is healing really well in her big blue pool. We are hoping that her blue pool will be a big blue ocean before long.

Geri

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Conservation status: Endangered

On Sunday, 25 July, a three flippered, 48 kg Green turtle was rescued in Paternoster, up the West Coast of South Africa.

Tracy, our Turtle Rescue Network coordinator, drove this turtle down to Cape Town where she was attended to by the rehab team.

She was named Geri after Tracy (who is called Geri by her friends), and after the Giraffes that were spotted on the drive down to Cape Town.

Though Geri was missing her front left flipper, it was the right flipper that was concerning, with deep wounds on the underside that extended down to the bone.

This was properly debrided and Geri was started on antibiotics and pain meds to help make her comfortable.

In the time that she has been here, amazing progress has been made by Geri as her wounds have healed really well and she has increased in alertness and movement.

In true green turtle fashion, Geri is a sucker for some fresh sea lettuce, though she is taking to some fishy hake as well.

Geri has improved tremendously and is now swimming in the Aquarium’s I&J Ocean Exhibit. She will be release-ready by the end of the year. 

Favourite food: sea lettuce, with a side of hake

Favourite activity: chasing after Bob in the I&J Ocean Exhibit

Current weight: 48 kg

Hatchlings

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

 

Turtle hatchling season is in full swing, and we now have 43 little turtle patients in our care. The first few are ready for adoption. You can help us in their rehabilitation journey by adopting a hatchling, and you get to name them. Click below to see who is ready to be adopted.

The three hatchlings from 2020 still in our care are #35, #17 and #5. All three are turning into long-term patients. #35 will need more long-term care, due to a condition that causes severe asymmetry in the body. #5 and #17 both have softer than usual carapaces, which would make them vulnerable to predation in the ocean. Further testing and treatment is needed for our three yearlings, before we are confident to release them back into the ocean.

Adopted hatchlings

Forebearance (#3)

Adopted by: Mavric Webbstock

Myrtle (the turtle) (#4)

Adopted by: Cronje family

Bortus (#5)

Adopted by: Stefanie Pape

Crush (#6)

Adopted by: Peter Berndt

Leukocyte (#7)

Adopted by: Alana James (DKMS Africa) You can co-adopt me!

Photon (#8)

Adopted by: Winelands Radiology

Electron (#9)

Adopted by: Winelands Radiology

Frederik Willem Boudewijn Gerner II (#10)

Adopted by: Vanessa Marshall

Lucky (#11)

Adopted in memory of Marguot Voyatzoglou

Freedom 2 (#12)

Adopted by: Oceans Alive Conservation Trust

Eddie (#13)

Adopted by: Edgemead High

Kiara Big-Wow (#14)

Adopted by: Ceri Coxon and Howard Minnie

soFar (#15)

Adopted by: Alexandra Mamacos 

Donatello (#17)

Adopted by: Pecanwood College

Ariana (#20)

Adopted by: Ariana Sailing Team Ltd

Hun (#21)

Adopted by: Diane Klein

Uli (#22)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Ray (#25)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Lil’Zee@C (#26)

Co-parented by: Xavier Zylstra & Tinus Beukes

Zapp (#27)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Latte (#28)

Adopted by: Ann Lamont and Virtual Latte swimming club

TC (#29)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Poco Neil (#30)

Adopted by: Neil Gregory

Squirt (#33)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Rax (#34)

Adopted by: Siemens Healthineers

Ellie Blue (#35)

Adopted by: St. Cyprian’s School

Royal Cape (#36)

Adopted by: Royal Cape Yacht Club

Kethan (#37)

Adopted by: Andre Blaine

Kay (#38)

Adopted by: Kiara 

Aza (#41)

Adopted by: Jeannine

Nalu (#42)

Adopted by: Nalu Wines

ElleG Warne (#44)

Adopted by: James Warne

Sammy’s Turtle (#45)

Adopted by: Lynette Finlay

Crush (#46)

Adopted by: Bianca Engel

You can co-adopt me!

Still to be named (#47)

Adopted by: Clement Blanc

Still to be named (#49)

Adopted by: Clement Blanc

Frodo Mageza Maharaj (#50)

Adopted by: Nisha Maharaj

Stardust (#51)

Adopted by: John Roos

Nula (#53)

Adopted by: Nalu Wines

J9 (#54)

Adopted by: Janine Hills

Still to be named (#57)

Adopted by: Heidi Carter

Goliath (#58)

Adopted by: Sean Power

Donatello (#5) from 2020

Adopted by: Don Hunter

Oceans Alive – Freedom 1 (#17) from 2020

Adopted by: Oceans Alive Conservation Trust

Kai Kumkani (#35) from 2020

Adopted by: Mike & Kai de Maine, and Jeanne & Kira Claassen