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Conservation

 

Turtle releases

 

 

Back in the ocean

Released 14 January 2021

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 was released with 22 other turtles 14 January 2021. She has been equipped with a satellite tag, which means we will be able to track her for the next two years or so. We will post regular updates on her journey.

Read about Annie’s full story here

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 treated Luis’ wound with an ingenious lunch box contraption, which kept 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. The hole in Luis’ carapace fully healed and, fittingly, he was released off Hout Bay back into the ocean. Luis has been tagged with a satellite tracker, which means we will be able to follow his journey, wherever it may lead him. 

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 made great progress. He started eating and swimming freely around his rehab pool. We are so glad that he was found, as he would most certainly have died of hypothermia. Olaf was one of the 23 turtles that we released back into the ocean 14 January 2021. We wish him all the best and a safe journey back into warmer waters.

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 made eye contact with people when they walked by and gave them a curious little side glance which has made us all fall in love with him. Roo didn’t have too many major issues. His blood sugar levels were low and he had some external wounds, but he brushed off the ordeal that stranded him on the beach and fully accepted the temporary life of the Turtle Hotel. Roo made a quick recovery and has been released back into his real home. All the best to our beautiful Roo!

Hatchlings

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

 

Along with the four sub-adult (Olaf and Roo) and adult (Annie and Luis) turtles, we also released 19 hatchlings back into the ocean. Go well, little ones!

Images by Cleeve Robertson, Jacques Marais and Devin Trull. 

Watch a short video of the release. 

Released 3 March 2021

Thank you to Hooked on Africa for their turtle taxi services and for releasing all three turtles for us. 

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: squid and white mussel

Favourite activity: solitude, naps and regular meals

Release weight: 9.2 kg

Favourite food: squid and white mussel

Favourite activity: breaking records!

Release weight: 7.2 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!

Stella (#34)

Little Stella arrived at our rehab centre 12 September 2020. She had no major health issues, but was a little on the small side for her age. This is why she has not been released yet, so that she can grow a little more. Stella is one of our small, but mighty turtles and we are so happy for her to return to the ocean.

Arrival weight: 65g

Release weight: 423g

Adopted by: Kelli Whitehead