07 February 2014

May the Force be with you, Yoda

Two Oceans Aquarium

Two Oceans Aquarium staff bid bon voyage on Thursday to a rehabilitated green turtle, affectionately known as Yoda. Yoda was released back into the ocean in warm water some 15 nautical miles off Cape Point after eight months in rehabilitation at the Aquarium.

Yoda (gender unconfirmed) was brought to the Aquarium in June 2013 after ‘she’ washed up on Melkbos beach. Upon arrival at the Aquarium, she was weak and dehydrated. She weighed just 4.9kg and measured 36.5cm in carapace length and 36cm in width.

Yoda in quarantine. Photo by Kevin Spiby

According to Dr Georgina Cole, the Aquarium’s resident vet, “We were concerned that Yoda had an intestinal blockage of some sort so we took her for regular X-rays to see what was happening in the intestines. Once we had tube fed her a few times things started to move. It also seemed that she had a heavy parasite load because once we had dewormed her she started to pick up weight nicely.” Upon her release, Yoda weighed 7.16kg and measured 40cm (carapace length) and 38.8cm (carapace width).

Dr Georgina Cole, our resident vet, conducts final health checks on Yoda in preparation for her release. Photo by Kevin Spiby
Good to go. Yoda is in excellent condition. Photo by Kevin Spiby
Yoda in the transport tank on the boat before her release. Photo by Jacques Marais
Aquarist Kevin Spiby holds his charge. It’s easy to see why she was called Yoda! Photo by Jacques Marais
Kevin and aquarist Nicholas Nicolle give Yoda a glimpse of her world as they lift her out of the transport tank. Photo by Jacques Marais
It's time to go! Skipper Vincent Calder looks on with the camera. Photo by Jacques Marais

Aquarist Kevin Spiby said it was with mixed emotions that he said goodbye to Yoda, who had been in his care since June 2013. Dr Cole agreed, saying, “It is hard because we don’t know what will ultimately happen to the animal once it is back in the ocean.”

But once Yoda hit the warm water there was no holding her back, and she headed off swiftly into the beautiful blue.

Photo by Jacques Marais
Off into the deep blue. Photo by Georgina Cole

Yoda has a flipper tag and a microchip similar to those used in domestic cats and dogs so that she can be identified if she is caught or stranded again.

Read more about the Two Oceans Aquarium’s conservation projects. You can also make a donation to help us with our conservation efforts.

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