The first month of the loggerhead turtle hatchling season has barely past, but already we are seeing an influx of stranded hatchlings. Thanks to YOU, these hatchlings are being successfully rescued from the Cape's coasts and dropped off at turtle rescue network points for quick transport to our rehabilitation clinic. How are these little ones doing, and how are the long-term residents holding up?
The public has so far helped to rescue 15 loggerhead turtle hatchlings and transport them to the Aquarium's rehab clinic. Twelve of these tiny hatchlings are still in our care - unfortunately, two of the little ones were too injured to survive and passed away shortly after their arrival. Another hatchling, recovered after being illegally kept by someone for over a year, had its health assessed at our clinic and was released into the wild on 29 March (thanks Sean Amor for carrying out this release on our behalf).
The smallest of these arrivals weighed just 21g (less than a ten-thousandth of an adult), and the largest was just 46g. Although tiny, these turtles could grow to about 30 times their current size while spending the next few months in our rehab clinic.
Gansbaai and Struisbaai have so far seen the most stranded hatchlings, with several also rescued at Strandfontein, Rooi-Els, Witsand, Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay. No hatchlings have been spotted on the West Coast yet, but keep your eyes open as they will be potentially reaching those waters soon.
How are our bigger resident turtles doing?
Let's take a look at some of the rehab centre's long-term residents, many of whom you have come to know and love already:
Koda (apparently also known as Willemse):
Phiko (formerly known as Hatchling 2017 #31):
Phiko's physio has reached an advanced level - straps have been used to immobilise his good flippers so that he has to exercise the weak ones to swim. We have continued giving him daily flipper massages, and have also been using acupuncture to stimulate blood flow to prevent atrophy of his weakened tissue.
All this physio has been exhausting for little Phiko, so he is currently on few weeks rest before the next phase of treatment takes place.
Nanuk has recovered her energy and has become quite spunky again (and her shell is mostly healed - so no more braces)! After being kept in a small pool where we could monitor her carapace's healing, she is being moved back into a big pool. Why the move? We are getting her ready for release!
Despite the circumstances of her rescue, Moya is energetic - eating well and her flipper has continued to heal. We are still concerned that she may have an internal injury, as her digestive system does not seem to be functioning normally and we will be doing another x-ray contrast study to see if she has a previously undiagnosed internal injury. This involves getting her to eat some gross-looking barium sulphate, which reflects x-rays and will show up anyblockages and injuries.
Still being fabulous and healing slowly. Need we say more?