As part of our mission, we support the conservation work of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, which includes an extensive rehabilitation programme for stranded and injured sea turtles that become distressed on our coast. This work is carried out by a passionate team, under the leadership of Conservation Coordinator (a.k.a. "Turtle Mama") Talitha Noble.
2020 has been a very different year for turtle rehab. Due to the restrictions we all faced earlier in the year, we saw fewer stranded hatchlings being rescued and it's therefore been a quieter season than usual. But, the babies that were rescued have huge personalities and have given us so much joy!
The unusual year continued into October when we received six subadult green turtles over a few short weeks - we have never had this many green turtles at the same time!
So, let me introduce you to some of the new green turtles in our family:
First up is Harry, who had nasty skin necrosis when he arrived from Stillbaai on 21 October. Harry’s rehab has been slow as he has a lot of healing to do. He spent his first few weeks in quarantine where he got hand fed yummy prawns and made animated use of his shell-scratching post. After his initial improvement though, Harry stopped eating and became a little bit more lethargic. We thought he might enjoy some sunshine and moved him outside to a bigger pool. This seems to have done the trick - Harry is enjoying small bits of prawn and pilchard again! Harry loves hiding in the shaded area of his pool and gets super excited for a back scratch! Harry has proven himself to be magical in his healing abilities - no doubt at all that he is a wizard!
Next, we have Mfusa, which means purple in isiXhosa. This little 9kg green arrived from Sedgefield on 22 October with batterings and wounds all over his body. These wounds needed regular treatment and care, and we used a purple antibiotic spray to help with this. This treatment left Mfusa looking like a smurf! His wounds have been healing incredibly well and he has a healthy appetite for pilchard, but Mfusa can be a bit skittish - so don’t sneak up on him.
Roo arrived on the same day as Mfusa - they kept each other company in the car. Roo was slightly less beat up, but completely covered in red algae - what a dirty little kangaroo! Roo weighed 7.5kg when she came in from Struisbaai and stole all of our hearts with her intense gaze and friendly nature.
Currently, Roo is sharing a huge pool with our most recent green turtle addition, little Arnie, who came in from Arniston on 6 November. Arnie only has three flippers, but is one of the strongest turtles we have ever seen! He even started eating on the first day he arrived. It must have definitely been that fighting spirit that helped him survive losing a front flipper!
Roo and Arnie enjoy sharing a pool, for the most part, they keep to themselves - but when feeding time comes around their competitive natures pop through.
Sadly, not all rescued turtles survive - two other green turtles, unfortunately, passed away, having struggled and fought hard battles. The first of these was a 17kg green turtle rescued near Wilderness, also with a missing flipper, and the second was a 12kg rescued near Witsand with severe intestinal distress. Unfortunately, despite best efforts on the parts of both their rescuers and the veterinary team here, the systems of both turtles were too severely compromised for them to recover - a reminder that despite our best efforts here, the best thing we can do for these animals is try to improve their circumstances out in their ocean habitat.
Due to uncertainty around travel, and some odd weather, we are keeping the rescued hatchlings for a little bit longer this year. They will be celebrating Christmas and New Year with us at the Aquarium, but we are very excited about a possible January release date for the hatchlings, green turtles Olaf and Luis, and Annie (the loggerhead with bubble butt) too!
The incredible work of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is only possible thanks to the amazing contributions of people just like you. If you'd like to support the rehabilitation of the turtles mentioned above, and the countless others that will be rescued in future, you can support these efforts here.