In November 2020, Talitha Noble will be immersing herself in the icy Atlantic ocean to swim from Robben Island to the mainland – a 7,5 km swim through frigid water. This effort will be alongside two other ocean warrior women, all swimming to raise funds for conservation!
Talitha will be undertaking this challenge to raise awareness and funds for sea turtle rescue, in particular for one amazing turtle named Bob. Talitha is a champion of turtle rescue and rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation and dedicates her days to the rescue and care of these iconic animals. Highlighting the plight of these endangered animals is a massive task (just like swimming from Robben Island to Cape Town), but Talitha and the turtle team are up to the task! But, for this blog, we thought that we would let the ultimate turtle ambassador, Bob, tell his own story…
(Image credit: Devin Trull)
Hi. My name is Bob and for the last 6 years I’ve been living in the I&J Ocean Exhibit at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
When I arrived here, it was because I had washed up, stranded, at De Hoop Nature Reserve. I remember being picked up and taken to a safe place. I also remember that I was in pain – I had been washed up among the rocks and tumbled about quite badly.
The next period of time was very blurry for me, I couldn’t see anything, and I remember hearing the constant sound of voices around me. Later, I found out that the wounds I arrived with were infected and that I had gotten meningitis causing me to go blind, and that the humans I could hear were trying to help me.
The plastic found in Bob’s medical pool, that he had eaten in the ocean (Image credit: Two Oceans Aquarium)
My next memories were seeing shapes again and having a big tummy ache. My carers were shocked when they saw that I eventually made a really big poo! It felt like a relief to me, but I was surprised to find out that my poop was full of plastic. I felt bad about this because I didn’t know I was eating plastic when I was in the ocean. I just saw food that looked yummy floating in the sea – I guess it’s an easy mistake for us turtles to make.
I love my home at the Aquarium. I get delicious fresh veggies every day and the water is always warm, but I do miss my home in the ocean.
One of my main carers, Tali, tells me that they want to take me back to the sea, but they need to make sure I can fend for myself first. Currently this is difficult for me, I need more rehabilitation.
Being at the Aquarium means I meet lots of cool people. Children have done projects on my story, people have come to meet me and often I have fun photoshoots. I also really like the scratches I get when people come to visit me!
Whenever Tali or the other turtle carers talk about me they say I am an ambassador for the oceans, that I teach people about how dangerous plastic is. I like this, I want people to help protect my home and I don’t want other turtles to accidentally eat plastic like I did.
I know that looking after me is expensive. I need fancy doctors and I really like my special lunch every day. But the turtle team say it is okay, they have ideas to help raise money to look after me until I can be released.
Talitha says that she will swim like a turtle for me to raise money! That makes me laugh because Tali is not a turtle and I do not think she can swim as fast as me! But, she says that she is going to swim free in the ocean so that one day I can too.
This makes me an excited turtle!
To support Tali swimming, and my ongoing rehab, visit her GivenGain fundraising campaign and support us both!
(Image credit: Devin Trull)
Claudine van Zyl completed her Work Imtegrated Learning (WIL) internship with us last year. Her research project was: ‘The characterisation of plastics in stranded post-hatchling loggerhead turtles along the South African coastline from 2015 to 2020’.
Bob, a green turtle in our care, has been with us since November 2014. While he is not ready for release yet, we are preparing him so that he has the best chance of survival back in the big blue. Alex Panagiotou, one of our turtle team specialists, is working with Bob through enrichment programmes and research.
Grant Blakeway completed the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge by solo rowing 4 800 km across the Atlantic. He did this to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.