At midday on Thursday, May 9th, 50 very important little visitors landed at King Shaka International Airport.
These 50 precious VIP’s that each weigh no more than 150g and can fit into the palm of your hand, are all Loggerhead turtles. They were found stranded at various locations along the Cape Coast and taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium where they received primary treatment.
The staff at Two Oceans Aquarium have been very busy and are anticipating the arrival of even more stranded hatchlings who will require care and attention.
As uShaka Sea World is fortunate enough to have a specialised world-class turtle rehabilitation facility and is positioned along the warm Indian Ocean, it was clear that these50 little turtles should spend their pre-release period in Durban whilst making way at the Two Oceans Aquarium for further patients.
All 50 of the turtles would have hatched sometime during this last hatchling season which took place between January and March. After making their way into the ocean, hatchlings head out until they reach the Agulhas Current which takes them on a journey southward and then outwards and upwards into the Indian Ocean Basin.
🐢 This one of our incoming rescue hatchlings – covered in goose barnacles that weigh more than the turtle itself! It would have had to be adrift for a very long time for the barnacles to grow – a sign of just how resilient turtles can be. https://t.co/5rtoxgQ1Dj #turtlerescue pic.twitter.com/8CW3l7iwRD
— Two Oceans Aquarium (@2OceansAquarium) May 15, 2019
The strong onshore winds recently experienced in the Cape meant these little turtles did not head outwards and upwards but rather into the cold coastal Cape waters where they are unable to survive.
Although hatchling rehabilitation times vary and are case dependent their convalescence is usually much shorter than older turtles as they are merely in need of rest, rehydration and nourishment before once again heading off on their ocean journey.
If all goes well these little Loggerheads will be back in the ocean before winter.
Senior Aquarist, Malini Pather requested that “If you find a turtle hatchling on the beach please do not put it back into the sea as it is clearly in trouble. Rather pick it up and keep it dry, out of the wind and direct sunlight and place it, if possible, in a tub on a piece of a dry towel. As soon as you are able, please call uShaka Sea World Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on 031 328 8222 (24 hours)”