The most fulfilling part of rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles at the Two Oceans Aquarium is, of course, their release back into the ocean when they are fully recovered. The most exciting (and quite often, most stressful) part is tracking the oceanic movements of these sea turtles. Where will they go next? Are they ok?
Fortunately, thanks to modern satellite tracking technology and the collaboration of government, aquariums and generous donors, we are able to follow the journeys of some of our releases turtles closely - and provide you with their inspiring ocean adventure stories. Let's take a closer look at their travels.
Yoshi and Alvi aren't alone - other stranded turtles deserve a second chance too. Support the Turtle Rescue Programme of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation in its efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release hundreds of stranded turtles each year:
Where are they now?
25 June 2020
Alvi is on a mission, and is finally heading into the high seas after hugging the West Coast for a long time. Alvi was rescued after washing up on the beach at Struisbaai and recovered well after the rehabilitation team removed a plastic bag from his throat. Alvi was fitted with a satellite tag, supplied by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, and released off Cape Point at the end of last year. He spent the first 4 months between Melkbos and Langebaan, a real Weskus local, and then travelled all along the continental shelf right into Namibian waters.
Alvi is currently heading towards the Walvis Ridge, which is a 3 000km long ocean ridge that stretches from the Namibian coast to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near Tristan da Cunha. What is quite incredible is that he has now crossed the tracks of many of the other turtles we've released and tracked in the past: Winston the little hawksbill turtle released in 2015, Yoshi the absolute legend of a loggerhead turtle who was released in 2017, Pemba the olive ridley turtle who underwent rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and uShaka Seaworld and was released in 2018, and Noci the loggerhead turtle who was released at the end of 2018. They all made good use of the Benguela coastal current as well as the Benguela ocean current.
It is amazing to map out these incredible turtle journeys.
Alvi is about 400km west of Hentiesbay at the moment, and another 560km to go before he reaches Angola. He has covered just short of 4 000km over the last 210 days, at a very good pace of 19km/day. He is in a very mild 19°C water temperature, which is slightly warmer than the air temperature in this area. There is a very gentle southeasterly current, but a strong southerly wind blowing.
Alvi, together with Winston, Yoshi, Pemba and Noci, have collectively been tracked covering 83 000km, that is the same distance as circumnavigating earth twice!
What incredible oceanic journeys, and even more reason to look after the ocean and keep it plastic-free.
16 June 2020
It seems as if the most famous sea turtle in the world is taking a bit of a holiday and enjoying the warm water off Eighty Mile Beach in Western Australia. Yoshi has spent much of the last 6 weeks moving around a 30km stretch near the northern end of the Lagrange area.
The Eighty Mile stretch is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia, recognised as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and an absolute haven for anglers, shell collectors and birders. Thousands of migratory birds flock here on their annual migration and twitchers will get to see eastern curlews, great knots, red knots, Terek sandpipers, pied oystercatchers, greater sand plovers, Oriental plovers and red-capped plovers.
Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park is also an important flatback sea turtle nesting site. There are various different ecosystems such as mangroves, mudflats, seagrass beds and coral reefs, and these are home to incredible marine animals such as dugongs, dolphins, sawfish and millions of incredibly beautiful invertebrates (which would also be Yoshi’s snacks).
This area is safe, remote, with a current water temperature of 24°C, plenty of food and has remarkable sea life. Definitely the best place for a turtle to spend lockdown.
The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation's research associates from the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions are luckily still determined to try and re-tag Yoshi, and since the lockdown has been eased to some extent in Australia, they can start planning such an expedition. Imagine if we can get another three years of Yoshi’s extraordinary travels!
Yoshi has been back in the ocean for 911 days. She spent about 7500 days being cared for at the Aquarium, where she had the opportunity to grow big and strong and reach maturity. Only 1 or 2 out of a 1000 turtle hatchlings survive to maturity, due to the may risks, hazards and predators to turtles in the ocean. Yoshi was lucky indeed when she was rescued by a Japanese fishing vessel in 1997 and brought to the Aquarium. When she neared maturity we prepared her for over 18 months for life back in the ocean, after which she was released in December 2017. And what a wonderful journey it has been.
She has travelled about 40 000km over the past two and a half years. That is 1.6 million lengths of a gym pool, and 2 million lengths of the I&J Ocean Exhibit, Yoshi’s previous temporary home.
Her daily average distance covered for the entire period is about 44km, which is the equivalent of 1 760 pool lengths per day. She is a world-class athlete for sure!
The longest recorded distance by a swimmer was achieved by Ross Edgley who swam around mainland Great Britain. It took him 157 days to cover 2 884km at 18.4 km per day. Ross ate 544 bananas during this swim, lost chunks of his tongue due to continuous exposure to salt and also developed rhino-neck due to being continuously rubbed by his wetsuit. Yoshi, by comparison, has most likely eaten far more than 544 crabs (definitely a favourite snack) and already has the most beautiful built-in turtle-neck.
George Meegan holds the record for the longest journey on foot when he walked for 2 425 days (that is more than 6 years) and he covered 30 608 km. He took 41 million steps and wore out 12 ½ pairs of Italian hiking boots. He covered on average 12km/day.
The longest continuous walkable distance possible on earth is about 23 000 km, or just more than ½ of the circumference of the world. At an average walking pace of 20 km a day, it will take a person more than 3 years (1150 days) too complete. However, this is not taking into consideration wild animals, mosquitoes (carrying malaria), climate extremes (46°C heat to -40°C chill) and people and war zones, so most likely not actually possible at all.
What does all of this mean? Well, Yoshi clearly remains the absolute champ. She is strong, fit, brave, clever and she is also having fun, hanging out with friends and eating good food. Will she find the love part in the summer of 2020 along the coast of Australia? Let’s hope a new tag will be fitted so that we can find out what's next for this ocean-crossing champ!
7 May 2020
Alvi the sub-adult green sea turtle, is cruising into Namibian waters, after spending a few months enjoying the West Coast of South Africa, especially the St Helena bay area. He was released at the end of November 2019 and has since travelled almost 3 000km, much of it back and forward between Melkbosstrand and Elands Bay.
He is definitely on a mission at the moment and is about 166km southwest of Oranjemund, in the vicinity of the Tripp Seamount, which is within the Orange Seamount and Canyon Complex. This is an EBSA (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area) in the Benguela Current Marine Ecosystem and spans the border between Namibia and South Africa. It has 11 different ecosystem types and is a hotspot for species richness. This is a great area for Alvi to be in!
Alvi is in a very mild 17°C water temperature and in a slight southeast current. He is travelling about 19km/day at the moment, which is very good going. We will continue to follow him on his adventure along the Namibian coastline. What a little champion!
Adult green turtles are vegetarians, and he will be enjoying various types of algae. They are called green turtles due to the colour of the fat layer under the shell, which is most likely due to their diet. Juvenile green turtles do however enjoy eating crabs, jellyfish and sponges as well. Green sea turtles are found all around the world, but generally stay near the coastline, around islands or in protected bays.
They are listed as Endangered and the population estimate of green sea turtles globally is at about 85 000 nesting females. There are various nesting sites around the world, however, although they definitely enjoy spending time along our beautiful and diverse coastline, green turtles don't nest in South Africa.
Green sea turtles are known to be inquisitive and friendly, and scuba divers often report these turtles looking for a bit of attention and a good old back scratch (sounds just like Bob).
Alvi recovered well after a plastic bag was removed from his oesophagus. He is one of the more than 600 sea turtles that have been rescued and brought to us by kind and caring South Africans. Rehabilitation of sea turtles can take anything from a few months to several years, depending on the medical condition or injury. Currently have 23 hatchlings and two adult turtles are under the care of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation at the Aquarium, and we are looking forward to releasing healthy them into the ocean towards the end of the year.
25 April 2020
25 March 2020
Alvi the green turtle washed up on Struisbaai beach on 18 November 2018 and was rescued by the McQillon family and the NSRI and brought to the Two Oceans Aquarium for rehabilitation. A plastic bag was removed from his throat when closer examinations revealed the cause of his distress. He spent a year with us under rehabilitation and was released late last year, in great shape and with a fighting spirit. Alvi decided to head up the West Coast, almost all the way to Elandsbay. The furthest offshore he has been was 52 kilometers, but he tends to really enjoy hanging out closer to shore. He spent a great deal of time just off Cape Columbine and Paternoster, however during the past 4 weeks he has been moving around between Melkbosstrand and Yzerfontein. He even had a quick visit to Dassen Island, which is a proclaimed nature reserve and home to many seabirds. Right now he is about 3.5km off Langebaan, and about 2km west of Vondeling Island, home to oystercatchers, penguins, Cape cormorants and seals.
"What I find quite amazing," said Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation CEO Maryke Musson, "is that Alvi has covered much of the same route as our friend Greg Bertish during his Little Optimist Voyage when he sailed a tiny little sailing boat around Cape Point all the way to Langebaan to inspire sick hospitalised children to get better and to be positive. Alvi was a very sick turtle, and with great care and a positive attitude recovered so well and returned to his home, the ocean, to explore it and enjoy it. I was worried about him being in rather chilly water, but Prof. Ronel Nel assured me that green turtles tend to hang out where they choose to hang out – meaning, he is truly a firm believer that the West Coast is the best coast and likes being there."
Although Alvi is staying close to home, he has covered about 2 350km since his release on 26 November 2019, quite impressive 20km per day in his apparent "home range". The water depth at his current location is about 60m. Green turtles are not really known for their deep-diving and spend most of their time between the surface and 30m depth. It has been shown that green turtles get hypothermic stunned at about 10°C or below, so the 15°C - 17°C water that Alvi finds himself in currently is well above that threshold.
Alvi is a great example of resilience and a real little optimist. From lying helplessly on a beach to having a great adventure up the West coast. Such a little champ.
“I may be slow and I may be small. My sail is square and I’m not so tall. But I am special and I have a heart. My dreams are big and this is just the start” (the little Optimist by Greg Bertish).
We'd like to thank the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coasts for the satellite tag and transmission time.
28 February 2020
It's official - Yoshi has reached Australia! Now, speculation grows that Yoshi may finally have returned to her natal beach to lay eggs of her own...
27 January 2020
Some real sea turtle excitement worldwide as Yoshi continued her incredible journey – 740 days and 35 400km (yes, an average of 48km per day – every day – for more than two years – definitely a record-setting migration).
The longest swim recorded by a human is 2 882km over 157 days by Ross Edgley (who lost chunks of his tongue during the swim due to extensive salt exposure). Humpback whale migrations have been recorded at about 5 000km – with a record of 8 000km. Yoshi would definitely be able to keep up with them. Yoshi has also covered more distance than our very famous great white shark, Nicole, who covered 11 000km to visit Australia in 2004. To try and put this into context – Yoshi has covered almost 1.5 million lengths of a Virgin Active Gym swimming pool.
She decided to not pop in at the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, as we predicted she would in December but is well on her way and about 500km north of Australia's Ningaloo Marine Park. Ningaloo Marine Park is just off the coast of the Cape Range National Park (declared in 1964) and is also an UNESCO World Heritage site due to the incredible underwater biodiversity. It is known as the best place in the world to see whale sharks, has more than 500 species of fish, more than 300 varieties of corals, with manta rays and sea turtles (maybe Yoshi soon) swimming around safely, and even humpback whales visiting in winter. Yoshi really picks her routes well – she has passed the most incredible marine protected areas.
What is even more exciting is that Australian scientists from the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions as well as from Griffiths University, have made contact with us due to great interest in Yoshi’s journey but also in Yoshi (she might very well be an Aussie genetically). We are hoping, in collaboration with them and our own Oceans and Coast Department and local geneticists, that we might just be able to figure this out. They are also on standby should she decide to head to shore and nest. To have global support for Yoshi is just incredible!
Right now she is, as usual, moving between distinctive ridges (which means more food). She is about 150km north of the Sonja Ridge, 210km north of the Cape Range Fracture Zone and about 290km north of the Cuvier Basin. During the Late Jurassic this area formed part of Gondwanaland – which was pretty much composed of South American and African landmasses on the west and Antarctic, Madagascan, Great Indian and Australian landmasses in the east – before it separated off into the continents we know today.
She is in a lovely warm 27°C, with a very gentle SE current and a southerly wind of about 13km/h. Great conditions for this very fit turtle!
It is, of course, impossible to predict whether she will head towards the coastline or continue on her journey and possibly go to Queensland where there is a smaller nesting population of loggerheads. Or, in true Yoshi style, she might just end up being the first recorded loggerhead sea turtle to cross three oceans as she continues her world travels (Yoshi Magellan has a good ring to it).
What we do know is that Yoshi is most definitely the legend of legends when it comes to ocean travelling, and she has well surpassed Adelita’s 10 000 km Pacific ocean crossing (Adelita was the loggerhead turtle released off Mexico after 10 years under captive care - her release is what inspired us to release Yoshi).
Just keep swimming Yoshi, just keep swimming.
Alvi is doing well too - it seems as if all our rehabilitated green turtles truly believe that ‘Wes kus is die bes kus’ and Alvi has been rendezvousing between St Helena Bay and Elands Bay for most of the festive season, before heading back to Paternoster and also spending quite a bit of time off Cape Columbine.
He has since moved towards Saldanha Bay and is about 65km offshore west of Saldanha in a manageable 16°C. We're really excited to see where he will be heading next. It is a big ocean out there with a lot of warmer water to explore.
24 December 2019
Yoshi has now covered 34 000 kilometres since her release two years ago in December 2017! What an incredible achievement. That is 46.5km per day on average and an average speed of 1.94km/hour. She explored the Atlantic Ocean before venturing into the warm Indian Ocean, and is now about 1 278km north-west of Australia. It seems as if she is heading straight towards the Dirk Hartog Island, which is part of Shark Bay World Heritage Area. This is great news for Yoshi and for us – what a clever turtle.
The Dirk Hartog Island was discovered by Mr Hartog himself, while on a Dutch East India Company vessel, called the Eendracht, en route from Cape Town to Jakarta, in 1616. How apt that Yoshi has travelled this route as well (with an added loop up the West Coast to Angola of course). This island has an annual loggerhead nesting population of about 1400 females and is a protected area with a well-established monitoring program.
The Shark Bay area (about 200 000 hectares) was listed in 1991 as a UNESCO World Heritage area and Australia thus has an international obligation to protect, conserve and rehabilitate this area which has cultural, historical and scientific significance. The Shark bay area has vast sea-grass beds, the largest and richest in the world. It is also home to a large population of dugongs (sea cows – who love seagrass of course) and it is also known for its stromatolites – colonies of algae which formed hard, dome-shaped deposits and are among the oldest forms of life on earth. This area is also a refuge for various globally threatened marine species. I reckon if I had a choice of where to spend some time in a beautiful warm and protected area with plenty of food, I would choose the Shark Bay World Heritage Area too. Yoshi is in lovely 27°C water at the moment with a gentle current from a north-westerly direction pushing her along, but she is swimming against quite a tough easterly wind.
Yoshi’s satellite tag was one of our best investments ever. We have received 20 158 messages from 4 672 satellite passes. We are collaborating with Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry on the satellite transmissions of Yoshi, and her Wildlife Computers tag sends data directly to the ARGOS platform.
Yoshi is currently 8 000 km east of the Two Oceans Aquarium and 7 500 km north of the South Pole. She might also still fancy going to crabby Christmas Island (1 352km east of her) or to Bali (2 125km east of her current position).
What an incredible journey. And what an incredible turtle – her built-in GPS is certainly directing her to a safe marine area where she could very possibly originally be from. It would be amazing to see her nest along the West Australian coastline where the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation’s Gnaraloo Sea Turtle Conservation project protects and monitors this genetically distinct population in a marine protected area.
The value of Marine Protected Areas is enormous, and that is why we support the drive to declaring and protecting more marine areas along our own coastline. In 2019 we went from 0.4% to 5% of our oceans protected around South Africa when 20 new marine protected areas were declared.
Alvi, the little green turtle who recovered so well after having ingested a nasty single-use plastic packet, is loving the West coast. Alvi has been back in the ocean for almost a month now and wasted no time before heading towards St Helena Bay. He seemed to have really enjoyed his time off Paternoster, which is one of the oldest fishing villages on our West Coast.
Cape Columbine, just around the corner, has South Africa's very last manned lighthouse and a large seal colony. Alvi passed Veldrif and Laaiplek (mouth of the Berg River) and is transmitting from Dwarskersbos at the moment. This is a little fishing village and also the area where Vasco da Gama first set foot on South African soil in 1497 after he rounded the Cape on the first recorded ocean route between Portugal and the East.
Sandy, our rescued sea turtle who survived a very nasty boat strike, also loved the West Coast, and spent about 6 months exploring this area. The water is a very nice and mild 18°C at the moment – so Alvi is certainly enjoying his time in this area.
Noci has given us just short of 17 000 kilometres of travelling, with 29 393 transmissions from 4 060 satellite passes. Unfortunately, his tag has stopped transmitting, and the information received points to battery failure, as his behaviour was still normal for a travelling turtle up until the last transmission. He was about 75km west of Spencer Bay, and about 127km north-west of Luderitz at his last transmission, exploring Namibia.
Noci was a definitely a favourite turtle during his time at the Two Oceans Aquarium where we all loved his "tough and wild look". And yet again – what an incredible success story. We'll be sure to follow-up Noci's story in more detail soon.
11 November 2019
32 seems to be quite a significant number in South Africa at the moment, and Yoshi has decided to honour our Rugby World Cup victory by clocking up a solid 32 thousand kilometres!
Yoshi has been back in the ocean since 16 December 2017 and has covered an average of 46km’s per day for 694 days consecutively. That is absolutely incredible.
She has just crossed the Ninety East Ridge, which is the mid-ocean ridge on the Indian Ocean floor dividing the Indian Ocean into the West and East Indian Ocean. This ridge is a great location for Yoshi to feed – probably still her favourite pastime.
Yoshi is about 2300km west of Australia, and 2 200km south-west of Christmas Island, a rather far-flung Australian outpost and nicknamed the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean" due to it being famous for its rich biodiversity in marine life and seabirds. Sir David Attenborough described the annual crab migration on this island as one of the most spectacular wonders of the world. 60 million red land crabs make their way down to the coast to spawn during this migration. Christmas Island is also known for being home to the largest land crab, the robber crab – which is up to a meter wide and can live for a 100 years (sounds like the crab version of Yoshi actually).
We wonder whether Yoshi will head for this beautiful island. It is a prime turtle watching location, but mainly for Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles. Yoshi is also 3120km south-west of Bali – so still on track for a bit of a surfing holiday should she wish to stay clear of all the red crabs.
Her straight line distance from Cape Town is 6 900km at the moment. She finds herself in a lovely 22°C water temperature with quite a bit of a headwind blowing from the east. Yoshi’s tag is just brilliant and has sent us 19 454 messages with 4 457 satellite passes.
We still do not know whether she will head towards the nesting sites in Australia, or perhaps head up to Sri Lanka or, potentially, keep navigating all the way to Japan. Go Yoshi, go!
Noci is our fastest swimming sea turtle to date. He has covered 16 759km in 325 days! That is a very impressive 51.6 km/day! Noci is currently travelling up the Namibian coastline again. He hopped in and out of Namibia early October, and spent a few days very close in-shore before heading about 100km offshore again.
Currently, Noci is about 100km north-west of Lüderitz and has been alongside restricted diamond mining areas for over a month now. He is 930km straight line from release site – just shows you how much he loves exploring the South Atlantic ocean as he has actually clocked up almost 17 times more distance than that through all his zig-zagging.
The water temperature over the last month has definitely been on the chilly side (he is still crisscrossing and circling the cold Benguela current) – with a range between 12-18°C. Currently he finds himself in a gentle wind from behind. He has done quite a lot of deep diving over the last month – with various dives between 50-80m and down to 137m, and his tag has recorded a maximum depth of 220m. That is pretty much the same length as 9 x gym swimming pools, but under quite a bit more pressure. The deepest classical free-diving record (that is constant weight and self-propelled) for a human is 130m.
Noci’s tag sends more regular updates and we have received 29 095 messages from 4041 satellite passes to date.
What an absolute champ, we wonder whether he will head up to the amazing Cape Verde islands, which has the third-largest population of nesting loggerhead turtles in the world. He might very well find a lovely female up the coast near Senegal or Ghana, which is a good 6 000km north-west of him.
26 September 2019
It has been 650 days since Yoshi embarked on her ocean adventure - 30 246km travelled since. That is 46.5km per day (that is almost 2km per hour which is very impressive fo ra sea turtle). A Spanish ultrarunner, Ricardo Abad Martinez holds the human world record for consecutive marathons run on consecutive days, all 607 of them! Yoshi has pipped him proper with her 650 consecutive marathons (with a few extra kilometres too).
Yoshi first travelled west and passed Namibia and Angola, and then decided to go east (well – south-east at first to get around the beautiful Cape of Good Hope of course) and past Namibia and South Africa. She continued east and passed Madagascar and Mauritius. She enjoyed the Walvis Ridge on the West Coast and then, of course, the Southwest Indian Ridge (she knows exactly where to find food). She has spent time thousands of kilometres offshore, but also did a bit of coastal investigation.
We wondered whether she would head for Japan (since she has a Japanese name – not that it makes any sense at all – but who knows). She has pretty much travelled the distance from Cape Town to Tokyo and back to Cape Town. However, right now, she finds herself closest to Australia, with 3 200km of ocean between her current position and Perth. If she heads straight North, it is about 3 300km to get to Sri Lanka and about 3 800km across to get to Bali (who does not want to go to Bali).
She is 6 300km east of Cape Town at the moment – even though it took her 30 000km of travelling to get to this position – she clearly loves ocean traveling – and that is precisely what sea turtles do. If she was to circumnavigate our planet, she would have completed 75% of her journey already – how incredible is that? Her satellite tag has sent us 18 592 messages from 4 219 satellite passes. At her current swimming speed Yoshi could get to Australia before the summer holidays.
Our favourite wild one, Noci, is a super swimmer and amazing explorer. He popped across to Namibia, but thought it better to pop back to South Africa. He seems to really enjoy the area around the Tripp Seamount, which is an area of ecological and biological significance with incredible species and habitat diversity.
Noci is in very acceptable 17°C at the moment and had a fun dive down to 30 meters just yesterday. He is 211km WSW of Oranjemund, but back in the South Arican EEZ (which means in South African managed ocean). Noci has been adventuring back in the ocean for 280 days, and he has covered a very impressive 15 186km since his release post-rehabilitation. That is an incredible 52km/day, which must be a world record for sure!
Noci’s tag sends more frequent messages than Yoshi's and we have received 25 381 messages from 3 624 satellite passes. We are really looking forward to seeing where Noci will head to next.
3 August 2019
Our travelling loggerhead turtles are doing really well, and the rescued loggerhead turtle, Anette, is also doing well in our turtle rehabilitation unit. Anette was entangled, together with a Cape fur seal, in a fishing net and washed up on the beach where both these animals were freed by the awesome team from the Kommetjie NSRI station.
Yoshi, Noci and all other turtles and marine animals face various risks such as fishing nets and ghost fishing gear, entanglement in marine debris, loss and degradation of habitat and vessel strikes every day. Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) were named for their large heads and powerful jaws which they use for feeding on sea snails, crabs and fish. They also enjoy eating jellyfish. They occur in a very large range through temperate subtropical and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Yoshi is still travelling across the Indian Ocean and has covered 27 300 kilometres since her release 595 days ago. That means a very impressive 46km per day! Yoshi is an absolute turtle celebrity and she is basically swimming the length of the Hollywood Walk of Fame 12 times every day.
She is currently about 4 500km northwest of Australia, and if she is planning on heading to Japan she needs to travel a further 9 000km. She is swimming against a stiff easterly wind at the moment and still not using the currents to make for easier swimming (she is a strong swimmer more than a smart swimmer). She finds herself in a rather nice 21°C water at the moment.
Noci, the turtle with an amazing wild streak, continues to explore the Atlantic Ocean. He has travelled 12 123km since his release 226 days ago. He has been enjoying the eddies between the Agulhas and Benguela Currents and is a really smart swimmer, covering 54km per day! That must be a record! Noci also has a deep dive record of 224m, which is very deep for a loggerhead turtle, but leatherback turtles often dive down to more 1 000m. Noci is 464km west of Cape Town at the moment in a nice warm patch of 24°C water. Average water temperature during his journey has been 22.36°C.
25 June 2019
Yoshi is continuing her incredible journey in the open ocean along the Southwest Indian Ridge. This area extends for about 7 200km and has been in existence since the break-up of Africa and Antarctica (which sounds rather dramatic). There are about 12 fracture zones along this specific ridge – a common feature in oceanic basins on oceanic crust. Yoshi swam right across the Atlantis II Fracture Zone and then passed the Novara and Melville Fracture Zones. These areas contain many ridges and valleys underwater, and some of these rifts are more than 6km deep.
Right now. Yoshi finds herself in about 21°C water and the seabed (or at least this oceanic crust) is about 2.6km below her. This area also separates the Madagascar Basin from the Crozet Basin in the Indian Ocean. Yoshi is about 1 053km south of the beautiful island of Mauritius and her straight line distance from Cape Town is now 4 075km east.
Over the last 555 days, she has managed to travel about 25 000km (that is basically like swimming one million lengths in a gym pool – which will take a reasonably fast swimmer about 700 days of non-stop around the clock swimming). Her pace remains at a very impressive 45km/day average, that is just over a standard marathon per day – for 555 days in a row! Yoshi is super fit – and still choosing to swim against the currents (at the moment a 0.5km/h east current) and also swimming against a stiff easterly wind of 18km/h. Her satellite tag has sent us more than 16 000 messages from 3 622 satellite passes. This turtle is just incredible!
Noci remains the absolute champ when it comes to average distance per day. He has now covered 10 552km over 186 days, which is a mind-blowing 56km/day. Noci is currently in a nice and mild 18.2°C temperature and has experienced temperatures between 9.2°C and 23.9°C since his release.
We are lucky to also be able to receive his diving data and his deepest dive logged was 130 meters! His average diving depth remains at 3 meters, but over the last month, he has done 76 dives of deeper than 30 meters.
Noci is about 500km southwest of Cape Town, just west of the Engelbrecht Seamount. From his tracks, it is very obvious that he is just exploring the ocean moving from seamount to seamount (which provide good feeding grounds).
And then our West Coast girl Sandy. Sandy's satellite tag stopped transmitting on the 12 June – and we have analysed a lot of the data to try and figure out why. From her swimming behaviour and distances covered we have no reason to believe that she found herself in serious trouble. There are many possible reasons why her tag might be malfunctioning, such as loss of aerial, overgrowth on the sensor or aerial or the tag itself might have become dislodged. Herbie the loggerhead turtle that was released by uShaka earlier this year also stopped transmitting after a few months and luckily she was spotted, tag and all, by a kayaker, which was another obvious indicator that her tag malfunctioned, and not her.
Sandy spent a lot of time in cold water – she seemed to have liked the Elands Bay and Lambert's Bay areas. She still managed to travel an impressive 2 303km up and down the West Coast during her 174 days of transmissions. We are all hoping that somebody will spot her out at sea (her last transmission put her 1.5km offshore – just south of Elands Bay) as it will be really great to have visual confirmation that she is doing well.
As you all know – she is one feisty turtle – and most likely doing well and heading towards warmer water.
As soon as we have completed our full analysis on Sandy and Pemba's transmitter data we will share the more detailed travels of these amazing turtles.
20 May 2019
Pemba was released on the 8th of March 2018, and we were very lucky to have been able to track her for 424 days (14 months) before transmissions stopped on the 6th of May. This is very much in line with what we experienced when we tracked the two hawksbill turtles, Otto and Winston, both transmitting for 14 months. Pemba’s tag sent 21 727 messages over this time – quite a bit more than Yoshi’s thus far, and hence the battery running down quicker than Yoshi’s.
However, she managed to travel 16 664 kilometres since her release, which was a very impressive 39.3km per day! She did not slow down over the last 3 weeks of transmission, which is another sign that she was strong and healthy. In fact, on her last day of transmission, she moved 37km.
Pemba was released off Mabibi in Kwa-Zulu Natal, after a fantastic collaborative rehabilitation effort by both the Two Oceans Aquarium and uShaka Seaworld in Durban. She is a smart-swimmer and made great use of the currents. Pemba at some point made us think that she was heading towards Brazil, but she eventually veered back up the west coast of Africa and her last transmission was offshore, about 1 400 km south of Liberia. This position was 2 062km west of Luanda and 3 214 east of Brazil.
Straight line distance from the Two Oceans Aquarium is 3 821km. What an amazing international traveller – from the warm Indian ocean to the much cooler Atlantic ocean. The average temperature recorded throughout her journey was 20.22°C. She started off in March 2018 with a nice average of 24.7°C, and hit the cold Atlantic in May 2018 with an average temperature of 15.27°C for the month, and a minimum temperature recorded of 13.4°C – just shows you how tough these turtles are. Only once summer hit in the southern hemisphere did Pemba find warmer water again – and since January 2019 she was in a lovely 24 to 26°C water.
"I feel very fortunate that we managed to see Pemba thrive back in the ocean after a very long and tough rehabilitation period." - Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson
Sandy has, at long last, decided to leave her favourite surf spots, Elandsbay and Lambertsbay, and she is heading further up the West Coast, currently about 14km west of Doringbaai. This feisty green turtle, who survived a terrible boat strike injury near Witsand in the Western Cape, arrived in the Elandsbay area on 1 January 2019. This, of course, had us rather concerned as the water temperature there was on average between 10 to 13°C – not the ideal range for a sea turtle. However, Sandy managed quite well and raked up a very impressive 1 925km since release.
She is swimming against a strong NW wind at the moment, but with a bit of south-west swell behind her, and the temperature has risen to a still chilly 14°C. We are so proud of Sandy for persevering and also very thankful to the NSRI Lambertsbay and Fisheries Inspectors in Elandsbay who have been on standby just in case she decided to come to shore.
We are very excited to see where she will be going over the next few months. She has an enormous ocean to explore and much warmer water to be found. Her satellite tag has transmitted 9 547 messages from 1089 satellite passes, and hopefully many more messages to come.
Yoshi has maintained her "just over a marathon per day" pace with an impressive 44km per day. She is clearly loving the Southwest Indian Ridge which has many feeding hotspots. She has just passed the Gazelle Fracture Zone. Fracture zones are common features in oceanic geology and consequences of plate tectonics. The Gazelle Fracture Zone was only discovered in 1995. She is heading straight towards the Atlantis II Fracture Zone, which was discovered in 1976 by the US research vessel Atlantic II.
She remains in a nice comfortable 20°C with a very slight north current. Yoshi is currently 1 415km south of Reunion and 2 018km north of Port aux Francaise, also called Desolation Island – which is mostly submerged by the southern Indian Ocean and one of the most isolated places on earth. She is still within the worldwide range of loggerhead sea turtles though, with 5 454km to go to get to Australia.
Yoshi’s tag is serving us very well and we have received 15 274 messages from 3 310 satellite passes.
Noci is the champion with regards to average distance travelled per day. This loggerhead male has been back in the ocean for 150 days and is covering about 54.37km per day! How impressive is that!? He has travelled 8 156km since release – and has made some interesting turns along the coastline as well as deep offshore. His path has crossed that of Pemba and Yoshi. We have received 14 519 messages from 2 101 satellite passes. This is quite a lot, so we hope the battery on his satellite tracker will last longer than Pemba's.
Noci has spent most of his time in a very acceptable 19.45°C and is currently about 300km west of the Salt River estuary – an area that the turtles seem to really like; he was also seen hanging out in this area in December. He is now 452km NNW, straight line distance, from the Aquarium.
Noci’s tag has a very special depth gauge and it has been fascinating to see how deep he dives. His deepest dive thus far was 130 metres. The average depth of his dives since his release is 47.2 metres, however, he spends most of his time at about 2.5 metres below the surface.
15 April 2019
Yoshi has now covered 21 156 km over the last 484 days, that is 44 km per day! Imagine running just over a marathon every day for 16 months! Her speed averages 1.8 km/h which is fast and we're convinced all that training, good meals, love and attention prepared her very well for life back in the ocean.
It now appears that she is well on her way towards Australia. She is about 1 300 km south of Madagascar and swimming along the Southwest Indian Ridge which bisects the ocean between Africa and Antarctic. This area is most certainly a good feeding ground as well. She is in a very mild 19°C water temperature in a north current with a northerly wind pushing quite strongly along the surface too.
Yoshi’s tag is serving us very well and has sent through 13 889 messages with 3 004 satellite passes. Her tag is set at 30-second intervals, which is preserving some battery power. The tag can only transmit when she surfaces and is in range of a passing satellite.
The nearest loggerhead turtle nesting sites are still those along our northern Natal coastline and Mozambique, but Australia and Oman both see many Loggerhead females nesting along their beaches every year. At this stage, Yoshi remains an ocean explorer, and only time will tell whether she will head to her original home beach while still being tracked (which of course will be incredible).
Pemba, the rehabilitated olive ridley turtle, is continuing her explorations in the Atlantic Ocean. Olive ridley sea turtles are smaller than loggerhead and green turtles and are found in the tropical and warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are not as common in the Atlantic Ocean, however, there are nesting sites along Angola, Congo and Gabon. Pemba was released off Mabibi in KwaZulu-Natal 402 days ago and has since travelled 15 839 km. That is an impressive 39 km/day – almost as fast as Yoshi!
We initially thought Pemba was heading towards Brazil, but over the last month she has spent quite a bit of time near St. Helena and seems to be heading for Angola now. Currently, she is 392 km north of St. Helena and about 1 916 km west of Angola with 3 400 km between her and Brazil.
She is swimming around some well-known table-mounts, also known as guyots. These are isolated volcanic sea mounts at least 900 meters tall. The South Atlantic has 43 such guyots. Again – these areas are rich fishing grounds and there should be plenty of food for her. Olive ridleys are mostly carnivorous, living on jellyfish, crustaceans, tunicates with the occasional bit of algae.
It will be quite incredible if Pemba heads for the nesting sites along the west coast of Africa. Olive ridley females have an average clutch size of about 116 eggs and incubation lasts 45 to 51 days, but can take up to 70 days in poor weather conditions. At the moment Pemba is in a lovely warm 28°C with a very gentle east current but a rather strong south-east surface wind.
Pemba’s satellite tag has passed 2034 satellites and has sent through 20 962 messages. This tag was set to send a message every 15 seconds and that is why we have received more data on Pemba than Yoshi.
Noci, the beautiful and wild-looking loggerhead turtle, and only male sea turtle we have tagged to date, has been back in the ocean for 115 days. He did not have a long stay at our rehabilitation facility and it was a pleasure to release him back into the ocean in December 2018. Noci has travelled 6 600 km since his release – that is a very impressive 57 km per day! Imagine if he keeps this up!
He has impressed us with his travels, exploring close in-shore on the West Coast before heading back down into the south Atlantic and having a good look at various seamounts. Noci is certainly going with the flow and making good use of the currents. He has followed some of Pemba’s tracks and has crossed paths with Yoshi too.
He is currently about 870 km southwest of Cape Town near the Cape Basin seamount. He is in a very nice and mild 20°C water temperature in a circular current with a very strong southeasterly wind.
We have seen 1628 satellite passes from Noci and we have received 11 309 messages from his tracking device. Noci’s tag also registered depths of 130m – which is a very impressive diving depth. Noci is an incredible turtle all round and we are so happy he is doing so well back in the big blue ocean.
Last, but certainly not least is our West Coast girl, Sandy the green turtle, who has been spending most of her time between Elands Bay and Lambert's Bay. After a very long recovery at the Aquarium due to a serious boat strike injury, she is yet to decide where to head off to – which we are hoping will be sooner than later as green turtles do prefer warmer water.
Sandy has travelled 1 506 km since her release 115 days ago – which is a lot of swimming between her two favourite West Coast towns (also definite favourite spots for many surfers). She is in a bit of an on-shore wind at the moment and a very gentle north current and the water is a chilly 14°C. Sea turtles can cope well in cold water and just slow everything down a bit – but most certainly prefer more temperate and warmer water.
We have seen 766 satellite passes with 6 247 messages received – so she is certainly staying active!
8 March 2019
Pemba: This olive ridley has been travelling the oceans for 365 days! This true seafarer was released on 8 March 2018 and has had quite a remarkable journey. Since January 2019, she has been exploring what seems to be the middle of the ocean, and we believe she is enjoying spending time in areas offering good food supply. She is currently 1 917km west of Africa and about 251km south of St Helena Island. Just another 3 500km to go and she will be off the coast of Brazil, where many olive ridley turtles breed. She is in a very gentle north-easterly current at the moment and in warm sea temperatures of about 25°C.
Over the last year, Pemba has travelled an impressive 14 381km! That is averaging 39.4km per day. Her fastest month was the month of release when she was cruising down the Agulhas Current at a very fast pace of 145 km per day. September 2018 was a rather slow holiday month, where she moved about 25.5km per day – exploring and feeding along the Walvis Ridge. She picked up the pace again in February 2019 – moving around and about south of St Helena – at an average speed of 66km/day.
What a fantastic achievement for a rescued turtle who for a very long time could not even dive under the surface of her rehabilitation tank. Thanks to the incredible care and dedication of the animal health and veterinary teams at uShaka Seaworld and Two Oceans Aquarium, Pemba continues to enjoy the open ocean and inspire us all with her determination.
Yoshi: 447 days back in the ocean and more than 18 500km covered. Yoshi has averaged 39.4km/day since her release and has crossed various borders, swam in various directions, still continues to swim against the currents, still visiting areas offering a lot of food and even visited the new Marine Protected Area around the Protea Seamounts. What a journey.
Right now it appears as if Yoshi is swimming towards Australia – where Loggerhead turtles do nest. She may also choose to head north to Madagascar or Mozambique - we're as excited as you are to find out!
She is about 1 700km south of Madagascar and 1 850km east of Cape Town. Only 6 700km to go to get to Australia! We fondly think back of all the swimming training we did with Yoshi – and it is obviously paying off.
Noci: Noci and Sandy have both been back in the ocean for 78 days, and Noci, the male loggerhead, has racked up the fastest average speed of all our tagged turtles. He has covered a very impressive 4 122km since release in December, with an average pace of 53km/day. Noci headed up the West Coast straight after release and went to go and check out the mineral-rich areas off the Salt River estuary before turning around and heading back south. He then crossed paths with Yoshi around the Protea and Simpson Seamounts before heading into the south Atlantic currents and eddies, pretty much where Pemba did her roundabouts. Noci is being pushed by a rather strong southerly wind at the moment and is in a very acceptable temperate 20°C. This wild one is doing so well and it is really exciting having the opportunity of following a male loggerhead turtle.
Sandy: Since her release, Sandy has spent most of her time moving between Elands Bay and Lambert’s bay. We can’t help thinking that the presence of our two surfer dudes, Deen and Kevin, on release day somehow contributed to her choosing to go hang out in Elands Bay.
She has now covered 1 223km, at an average pace of about 16km/day. Bearing in mind that the water temperature has ranged between a chilly 9°C and 18°C, it is rather impressive that she has kept such a good swimming speed.
The fantastic crew at the Lambert’s Bay NSRI and the fisheries officers from DAFF Elands Bay have all be on standby should Sandy decide to walk out to rather warm up on the beach – but she is still swimming strongly and sending frequent transmissions which shows that she is doing well, even in the cold. We are hoping that she will start heading off sooner than later – as there really is an entire ocean to explore. However, I have heard from many die-hard West Coast locals that once you are there it is hard to leave. Let’s see where she will head next!
4 February 2019
Yoshi: While we celebrated the declaration of our 20 new Marine Protected Areas in South Africa, our incredible ocean traveller Yoshi the loggerhead turtle decided to visit the very first protected underwater mountain range in South Africa – the Southeast Atlantic Seamounts – one of the new MPAs. She is currently swimming around the Protea Seamount, about 246 kilometres south of Cape Point. Seamounts offer fantastic biological diversity and productivity – which means a lot of food for Yoshi! This area is also an aggregation site for various species of shark, seabirds, tuna and other turtles, such as the leatherback turtles.
Yoshi has swum over 10 000 kilometres (or possibly even as much as 14 000 kilometres if we look at every "zig-zag") over the last 414 days . She swims between 25 and 36 kilometres per day on average. Her journey has taken her up the west coast of Africa, past Namibia into Angolan waters, where she decided to turn around in June 2018. She reached South African waters again in November 2018, and swam past Langebaan on New Year's Eve.
On 24 January she headed offshore after which she veered east and headed straight for the Southeast Atlantic Seamounts Marine Protected Area. She is in a gentle westerly current at 21°C, great conditions for having a good time on a rich feeding ground. There is a whole range of underwater mountains lying ahead of her – and the lovely warm Agulhas Current. Yoshi has proven to us all that she is a very strong swimmer, so swimming alongside this current should not slow her down much.
Sandy: Sandy, the green turtle that suffered a terrible boat propeller strike injury and stayed with us for two years, headed straight up the West Coast after her release and stayed around Jacob's Bay for a week until just before New Year's Eve. She then headed up to Elands Bay – and decided to stay right there for most of January!
This had us all rather concerned as the water is quite cold up there, but Sandy has since shown us that she is handling these conditions very well. She headed up to Lambert's Bay on a few occasions and is currently a good few kilometres off Lambert's Bay in an acceptable 16°C water temperature. Her transmissions have zig-zagged all over the show – and measurement of all her transmissions gives about 840 kilometres travelled. She is a feisty turtle, and we are sure she will find her way to warmer water once "surfed out".
A huge big thank you must go to the crew at the Lambert's Bay NSRI base who have kept an eye out for Sandy as well to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials in Elands Bay. It has been absolutely heartwarming working with such caring people. Go Sandy go – time to find some warmer water.
Noci: Noci was the very first large male loggerhead turtle rehabilitated at the Aquarium - a very exciting opportunity to research loggerhead behaviour as most tagging projects are only able to observe females, as only females ever return to land where biologists can access them. Noci is doing really well and has travelled more than 1 200 kilometres since release.
He had a quick trip up the West Coast, before turning around and heading back to Cape Town in January. Noci has continued heading south and is now about 425 kilometres south of Cape Agulhas. He also crossed paths with Yoshi recently! Noci is in a very mild 21°C with a bit of a surface current pushing back against him (the tail end of the Agulhas Current). Go Noci go!
Pemba: Last but not least, Pemba, the olive ridley turtle rehabilitated in a joint effort by uShaka Sea World and Two Oceans Aquarium veterinary teams, has wasted no time and headed into the mighty Agulhas Current almost immediately after release. After some time exploring the Southern Ocean, Pemba headed up the West Coast to about Doringbaai before veering offshore into the Atlantic Ocean.
Pemba has since crossed the Walvis Ridge and is currently 1 906 kilometres west of the Namibian/Angolan border and 3 515 kilometres east of Brazil. She has travelled more than 12 700 kilometres! She has been back in the ocean for 333 days already and it looks like she is heading towards Brazil, where there are quite a few olive ridley turtle nesting sites (although it is still too early to be certain). She has a nice strong easterly wind behind her at the moment and is likely loving the 25°C water she finds herself in. Pemba was a challenging medical case – and it is lovely to see her crossing oceans!
4 January 2019
Noci: Noci, the large male loggerhead, headed straight up the West Coast after release off Cape Point and passed Saldanha bay by the 22 December 2018. He then continued up the West Coast, close to shore just past the Soutriver Estuary near Malkopbaai on the 27 December. This is exactly the area where Pemba, the olive ridley turtle released off the KwaZulu-Natal coast in March 2018, went very close to shore 3 months after her release, and about 30 kilometres north of where Yoshi, the loggerhead female, spent a few days very close to shore early January 2018. We are very keen to find out what attracts the turtles to that spot.
Oddly enough, Noci decided there and then to turn around, and spend New Years Day about 50km west of Lamberts Bay. He is about 42km west of Elandsbay at the moment in 17°C water moving against a slight current from the south.
Noci has covered 744km in total over 14 days, that is a very impressive 53km per day!
Sandy: Sandy, the feisty green turtle that recovered over a two year period after a very nasty boat strike, headed up the West Coast after release on the 20 December 2018, and then decided to spend a few days in and around Jacobs Bay and Saldanha Bay. She had us slightly worried for a bit, but with tremendous support and communications from the NSRI, especially Enrico Menzies from the Lamberts Bay base, our minds were put at ease as she explored the coastal waters in this area which was unusually lovely and warm.
By 29 December she started moving north again (much to our relief ) and passed St Helena Bay on New Years Day. She literally came within 10 kilometres of Noci who was heading back down the coast at the time. She is currently about 22km southwest of Lamberts Bay – swinging past the great NSRI crew and about 29km northeast of Noci. The water temperature is about 17°C – still nice and warm for the West Coast, but at the lower end of her preferred range, and she is swimming with a slight current from the south.
Sandy has covered 505km since her release, a fantastic 36km per day (bearing in mind she spent about 4 days in a small area off Jacobs bay – so certainly made up the distance since then).
What about Yoshi and Pemba – well these two turtles are still transmitting – and what incredible travels they have had thus far?
Yoshi: Yoshi has been back in the ocean for 383 days and has covered 9 500km, even though she is a mere 70km east of where she found herself on the 3rd of January 2018. She has maintained a very good pace of 25km per day. We are wondering how close to Cape Town she will find herself within the next week or two and whether she will head up the East Coast from here.
We have learned from Yoshi that turtles can adapt back into the ocean very well after extended time periods in captivity and that they are true oceanic travellers – she might very well swim around the ocean for another few years before nesting, and to date, we still have no idea where she is originally from. Our best guess at the moment is most likely from one of the Indian Ocean loggerhead populations.
Pemba: Pemba has been back in the ocean for 301 days and is currently about 380km northwest of the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean – 1650km west of Oranjemund. Pemba has now travelled more than 11 900km - an impressive 39.5km per day. She has slowed down over the last few weeks but is still using the currents to her advantage and she finds herself in 24.5°C water at the moment. She is a third of the way across the Atlantic Ocean towards Brazil. What an impressive journey!
We are very fortunate to be able to work with the Department of Environmental Affairs to track the movements of these turtles and, thanks to generous donations by some of our funders, we were able to tag both Sandy and Noci recently and follow their journeys since their release on 20 December 2018.
Sandy is a female green turtle that was rescued by the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust in September 2016 after having her carapace badly damaged by an apparent boat propeller strike. We didn't think Sandy would make it - but this resilient turtle has turned out to be the ultimate survivor. Noci was also rescued near Witsand, on 29 April 2018, and through the combined efforts of the family who foun