Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
No, it's Otto the hawksbill turtle making her way up our east coast!
Otto was released on 1 December along with 56 other turtles after one and a half years of rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium. She was tagged a week before the release by Darrell Anders, a marine research technician at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The Aquarium released Otto at a central point, about 30 nautical sea miles off Cape Point, which left her with the option to either go east or west.
She chose to go east and she is going east fast!
Hawksbill turtles are normally found in tropical waters and there are populations on both the east and the west coasts of Africa. Female turtles like Otto return to their natal beaches (the beaches where they were hatched) to lay their eggs.
The data received from Otto’s tag forms part of the turtle-tagging programme of the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Here are some photos from Otto's release on 1 December.
The Two Oceans Aquarium turtle rehab-and-release programme
As the winter months approach the incidence of turtle strandings increases as juvenile turtles (mainly loggerheads) are swept down from the northern coast of KwaZulu Natal (where they hatch) in the mighty Agulhas Current and washed ashore by stormy seas. They are often in a weak condition, having been exposed to cold water and are suffering from dehydration.
The Aquarium rehabilitates these turtles in preparation for their release back into the warm ocean. The Aquarium also rehabilitates sub-adult and adult turtles that have washed up on the shoreline. Besides loggerheads, the Aquarium has also rehabilitated green, olive ridley, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles.
Please help us help turtles by donating to our conservation fund - all contributions, big or small, make a big difference.