"Bubble butt" is a semi-official term that's used to describe a condition in turtles where the back of their body becomes too buoyant, making their butts float. Often this is the result of a build-up of gas inside the turtle's carapace caused by an infection or injury - often from ingesting sharp bits of plastic. Unfortunately, despite its relatively innocuous name, bubble butt, or the condition that causes it, can be potentially deadly to a sea turtle.

© Jean Tresfon

So why does Anette, a.k.a. Annie, the loggerhead turtle at the Two Oceans Aquarium have bubble butt?

© Jean Tresfon

Annie has been in the care of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation since 31 July 2019, when she was rescued by the NSRI after being found tangled in a ghost fishing net at Noordhoek BEach. Annie was fortunate not to have drowned or have any serious external injuries, but the shock and long-term impacts of this experience led to her having a particularly noticeable bubble butt.

Read more about the incredible efforts that were taken to save Annie over on the Foundation's site.

Annie the loggerhead has since made a remarkable recovery, she has regained her full strength, has a huge appetite and has no sign of any injury or infection. After a number of medical checks, she has been given medical clearance for release, and will be returning to the ocean in summer when waters are warmer. But... Annie still has bubble butt!

“Annie has a bubble butt, and this suggests that she has air trapped inside her body, but we're uncertain as to whether this air is trapped in her gut or in her body cavity. We think that it is somewhere in her body cavity as it is constantly moving, but we aren't sure what's causing it. So, we think it would be really helpful academically and for future turtle rehab to take her for a CT scan and really do our best to try to understand what is going on inside her.” – Talitha Noble, Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation Conservation Coordinator

Her bubble butt isn't severe enough to cause her any mobility issues - when she swims she is able to do so normally, but it does make her a little bit "floaty" when she is resting. We know this is weird to see in the exhibit!

Before Annie is released, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation would like to send Annie for a CT scan, so that the cause of this remaining buoyancy issue can be identified, and possibly remedied. Annie doesn't strictly need to have her bubble butt fixed, as it is not severe enough to affect her ability to live a turtley normal life, but having a better understanding of her condition would help the Foundation have a more thorough understanding of this type of issue, helping the treatment of future rescued turtles.

“Having said that, even if we don't learn anything new from the CT scan, Annie has already been cleared for release. She is fully capable of diving, swimming, reaching the surface for air, finding her own food and doing all the things that are required of a turtle when swimming free in the sea. Annie will be released at the end of the year, but it would be really satisfying to be able to pinpoint exactly what has going on with her so that we can learn from it and release even more healthy turtles in the future!” – Talitha Noble, Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation Conservation Coordinator

© Jean Tresfon


Let's help the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation release Annie back into her ocean home!

To get her release, she needs a final CT scan just to make sure her "bubble butt buoyancy" will not be a problem. Until her release date, Annie will keep getting her favourite snack, squid, to build up more strength for all the swimming ahead. When the time comes, she will be taken 30 nautical miles offshore for release into the lovely temperate current. You can help the Foundation accomplish this - your donations help feed, treat and release animals just like Annie!

Let’s get Annie home by helping the Foundation raise R25 000.

The first 10 donations over R1000 will each be gifted with one of the Foundation's amazing turtle rescue supporter hoodies.

The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation. Qualifying donations can be issued with a S18A certificate.

If you would like to contribute towards Annie’s rehabilitation journey, please support the Foundation's GivenGain campaign. #AnnieGoesHome 

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