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Turtle Program 2021- A Year in Review
By:
Talitha Noble
Talitha is our Conservation Coordinator. She manages our turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release programme. Because of Talitha and her team, all of our turtle patients are well looked after and have a second chance at life.

Hi, dearest turtle and fishy family! 2021 has been the biggest year of growth for the Foundation’s  turtle program thus far. We’ve summarised some of each month’s highlights – and the list is quite long indeed!

Thank you to everyone that played a part in supporting the work of our turtle program in 2021, we are grateful for all that was achieved this year and very excited to keep growing into 2022.

January:

  • We started the year with a small team of 3 part time hands on helpers: Alex, Martine and Claudine (spoiler: this number tripled by the end of the year)
  • We did our first turtle release, saying goodbye to 19 hatchlings, 2 tagged loggerheads (Annie and Luis), a sub adult green and hawksbill
  • We received the first stranding of the year: A subadult green with boat strike injuries, this turtle didn’t survive
  • Harry started a barium study (which ended up taking 4 full months to complete!)

February:

  • Alex’s intensive enrichment plan for Bob started
  • Litchi arrived covered in 2 species of marine leech (Ozobranchus branchiatus and Ozobranchus margoi)

March:

  • Mfusa, Arnie and 2020_34 were released
  • The first leatherback hatchling arrived, spent a week with us and was released
  • 2 loggerhead hatchlings were rescued and 1 hawksbill (this turtle died shortly after arrival)
  • Kai was examined by an animal physio – it was suggested that Kai has possible neurological damage

MApril:

  • We received 42 loggerhead hatchling rescues (5 were dead on arrival and 6 died soon after arrival)
  • We welcomed on board our” turtle dad”, Dr Peter Berndt who has generously offered CT/MRI scans for turtles that require them
  • Litchi got a CT scan
  • The Turtle Program and Two Oceans Aquarium Graphic Designer Jessica partnered with Rotaract to paint a huge mural of Bob at the Sea Point Park (go check it out!)
  • Calley and Melissa, WWF interns, joined our team as well as past turtle intern, Kiara
  • Harry’s barium finally passed through

May:

  • 7 loggerhead hatchlings were rescued (1 was dead on arrival, a further 3 died shortly after arrival)
  • A leatherback arrived and died soon after, necropsy revealed a plastic bag in its throat
  • We said goodbye to CEO Maryke and promised to hold close the love and light! We said hello to our new captain, Ann!
  • We officially partnered with Cape Exotic Animal Hospital, our referring vets being Dr Bernice Van Huysteen and Dr Ilse Jenkinsin
  • In partnership with The Beach Co-op we hosted a beach clean-up for World Turtle Day
  • Kai went for CT scan, revealing a very deflated left lung
  • Harry moved into I&J Ocean Exhibit

June:

  • 1 loggerhead hatchling was rescued
  • We trialed arnica as a treatment for joint inflammation on 2 hatchlings and it worked!
  • 2021_43 passed away, 121 pieces of plastic were inside of him, 91 of these in his cloaca
  • Kirsten joined our turtle team as an intern as Kiara left to continue her studies in the UK

July:

  • Animal Survival International hosted a beach clean-up with us to raise support
  • The Aquarium, Foundation and Consol Glass designed and ran with an activation in the V&A Waterfront around turtles as Ocean Superheroes
  • 4 new heat pumps were installed
  • UCT EBE Department started work on a 3D backpack for Kai, to make weight alteration less stressful
  • Nobomvu, a female loggerhead, stranded in Gansbaai in fishing gear and was rescued
  • Geri, a female green, was rescued in Paternoster

August:

  • 2 hawksbills arrived, both died a few weeks after arrival and showed very similar issues on necropsy
  • Litchi went for CT scan, Pan and Harry went for MRIs
  • Genevieve joined our team in a Animal Health and Data Monitoring position
  • Saving our Sea Turtles, a short film by Jacques Crafford on our Turtle Program was released
  • An olive ridley turtle arrived and sadly passed away on the night of her arrival

September:

  • 1 green turtle arrived
  • Kai and Pan had CT scans, this was followed by surgery on Pan to remove the abscess in his skull
  • Our life support system was upgraded and ozone sterilisation was installed
  • Geri moved into I&J Ocean Exhibit
  • We had our first Memorial Swim at Clifton for the turtles that we had lost this season
  • Malick joined our team as Husbandry Aquarist

October:

  • 1 loggerhead hatchling arrived along with 3 green turtles and 2 hawksbills (1 was dead on arrival)
  • Nobomvu developed issues in the bone of her right flipper; a joint tap was done and an unsuccessful attempt was made to place a feeding tube

November:

  • 5-year Turtle Program strategic plan was completed
  • Tracy and Talitha represented the Turtle Program in KZN for a conference to standardise methodology in turtle tagging methods
  • Through Oceans Alive and Spartan, the turtle team received their first vehicle
  • O&O Experiences went live with Karlien coming on board as Experience Facilitator

December:

  • Kai and Pan went for repeat CT scans: Pan is healthy and Kai’s lung infection has cleared
  • Karoline Hanks runs a campaign for Bob (B2B4Bob) to raise satellite tag money for when he is release ready
  • We have 38 hatchings and 5 sub/adults ready for release with 11 turtles remaining behind for a little more rehab
  • A new little rescue arrived the day after Christmas, a 13 kg green turtle from Struisbaai

Looking forward to even more turtle rehabilitation successes in 2022!

 

 

 

 

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