Turtle releases



Back in the ocean

Released 14 January 2021


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


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. Wetreated 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.


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.


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!


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.