Maryke Musson is the curator of the Two Oceans Aquarium.
We’ve been able to follow the journeys of our two rehabilitated hawksbill turtles since their releases in December. The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Oceans and Coasts unit helped us fit satellite tags onto the turtles.
The data received has been absolutely incredible.
Otto goes east
Our very famous Otto was released 30 nautical miles off Cape Point on 1 December. She immediately headed east, swimming alongside the Agulhas Current, which she subsequently crossed on 18 December. By early January she reached East London.
She continued east and started veering towards the coast once she passed Sodwana Bay towards the end of January. On 1 February she moved even closer inshore and towards Ponto do Oura in Mozambique.
By 10 February Otto moved out of the South African EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone – which is the sea zone over which South Africa has rights) and she was very close inshore in the beautiful warm waters of Mozambique. She continues to move slowly north along the inshore coast of Mozambique and just passed the Xai-Xai district.
She has travelled a total distance of 3 504km over the last 77 days. That gives an average of 45.5 km per day!
Winston goes west
Little Winston was released on 18 December, approximately 30 nautical miles off Cape Point as well. Winston immediately started moving back towards Cape Town and initially had us quite puzzled.
By mid-January, he started missioning up the West Coast and passed Paternoster on 18 January. He continued in a northerly direction and was approximately 137 nautical miles off Elands Bay on 27 January, after which he started moving a bit closer to shore.
From 10 February, Winston started moving up the coast at quite a pace and is currently about 69 nautical miles west of Hondeklip Bay.
Winston has travelled a total distance of 1 130km over 56 days (even though the distance between release point and current position is only 513km). This gives an average daily distance of 20km.
The longest distance he travelled on one day was 75km, and on his “going nowhere slowly” day he only travelled 1km. What a fascinating journey it has been for us following two such different routes!
Thanks to Otto Whitehead for turning our data into animated maps.
Watch this space!
As long as the turtles' satellite tags keep transmitting, we’ll keep getting info and we’ll keep sharing it with you here on the blog.