Nocawe: “Girl who arrived on Sunday”.
Like the isiXhosa name Nocawe suggests, the Two Oceans Aquarium turtle rehab centre received this giant newcomer on a contented and warm Sunday afternoon, 29 April 2018. Noci, as those who are affectionate with her like to call her, is a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), weighing 64.7kg (big, but still only a third the size Yoshi was when she was released), who washed up on a beach near Witsand. Rescuing a turtle is a team effort and this was no exception.
Mark and Sharon Coller found this stranded turtle that Sunday morning, washed up among the rocks, and quickly contacted the local NSRI station. The NSRI, in turn, contacted the Lower Breede River Conservancy (LBRC) and together they helped get the stranded loggerhead turtle off the beach and onto the back of a bakkie.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has a good relationship with the LBRC, as they are one of our official Turtle Rescue Network points and have rescued quite a few turtles in the past, including our darling Sandy the green turtle. We were incredibly grateful that some of their staff - Tasmyn Taylor, Gershwin Feilies and his young daughter Ava - were willing and able to drop everything and drive this precious cargo all the way down to our rescue facility at the Aquarium.
Upon arrival, our newest patient was taken up to the veterinary clinic and examined. Her carapace was given a good clean, but was covered in large barnacles that would take time to remove. No major external injuries were found, but the presence of the barnacles indicated that she had been floating for quite some time.
Blood samples were taken for analysis and the results indicated that she had a systemic infection. The cause of this infection was unknown and we, therefore, treated her with a range of antibiotics, antifungals and vitamins to treat all possible causes, as well as fluids to rehydrate her.
Over time, Noci regained her strength and developed quite an appetite, but when turtles float for a prolonged period of time due to injury or illness, their digestive systems slowly shut down. For this reason, she is only getting small amounts of food until her digestive system is working properly again. We are incredibly proud of how Noci has been responding to her treatments, what a conqueror!
We need to give special thanks to Gary Taylor, who paid for Noci's transport from Witsand to the Aquarium. Support like this is so valuable because it allows animals to reach our facility as soon as possible to receive the vital care that they need.
How can you help?
Loggerheads, together with green turtles, leatherbacks and the occasional hawksbill turtle, are all threatened species that need our help to survive in South Africa's waters. Here are a few ways that you can help them to have a fighting chance:
- If you live in the Western Cape, here's what to do if you find a stranded sea turtle.
- The turtle rehab-and-release centre at the Two Oceans Aquarium requires around-the-clock attention, specialised medical care and many extra man- and woman-hours. To help us do this life-giving work, please consider making a donation online by clicking here.
- Choose sustainable seafood - many turtles are killed as bycatch in unsavoury fishing practices. Use the WWF SASSI app to identify types of seafood that are environmentally sustainable.
- Take part in beach cleanups.
- Lastly, rethink your relationship with single-use plastic items, such as plastic shopping bags and drinking straws. Pick a reusable alternative - these simple items are devastating ocean ecosystems.