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Tracking Bob: First few days back in the wild

- Blog, Foundation, Turtles, Conservation, Bob
Tracking Bob: First few days back in the wild

After eight years in rehabilitation, Bob the green turtle has finally returned to the wild! We're sure you're just as excited to see what Bob gets up to as we are, and thanks to the support of Karoline Hanks, who ran the 13 Peaks (twice) to raise funds for a satellite tracker tag for Bob - we all get to follow his adventure!

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Bob's journey so far:

Update #1: 1 February 2023, by Talitha Noble

What an exciting time to be tracking Bob on his big ocean adventure. It is wonderful to imagine what he's up to, learn about the areas he's exploring, and be driven with each tracking update to take immediate, small actions towards protecting his home.

Bob was released at around 11h30 on the morning of Friday, 27 January 2023, on the coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal. Driving back from the release site through the sugar cane fields, we were feeling a weird mix of sadness but excitement for Bob when "ping" - we got our first transmission from his satellite tag!

Bob had a good strategy for Day 1, "Move north-ish, stay just a little bit offshore, enjoy being home and rip it, roll it, punch it, dude!" This was the mantra he applied as he covered a respectable distance of 3km on that first Friday of freedom.

Bob was released into the uThukela Marine Protected Area (MPA). On the MPA map below (created by Dr Mann of SAAMBR), you can see that uThukela is split into various zones, each with different regulations. Bob spent his first two days in the controlled area of uThukela, a zone that allows for limited fishing activities. But more on MPAs in a bit...


Day 2 was ALL about adventure! Staying about 100m offshore, Bob made his way up along the coast from Blythedale to Princes Grant, a distance of 4km, probably snacking from abundant algal beds along the way.

But that was not enough adventure; this was Bob's first opportunity in 8 years to go deep diving! He headed a little further offshore, a good 5km, to where the depth reached almost 50m. Bob must have really liked the deep-water coral reefs here, as he remained this distance offshore whilst moving north on the third day.

Day 3 was an exciting day for Bob for a few reasons. Firstly, he travelled an impressive 18km (go Bob go!). Secondly, he swam past the Tugela River Mouth and, in doing so, entered the most protected part of the uThukela MPA. This river mouth is a special spawning site for garrick: the area, and the 44km of ocean that extends from it, enjoys an extra level of protection.

Staying within this fully restricted part of the MPA, Bob moved even further (12km) offshore on Day 4, though he looks to be turning around. Perhaps he's heading back to those yummy algal beds?


What is particularly exciting about the area that Bob is exploring is that SAAMBR is currently tracking a few turtles in the same region!

One specific turtle, Nala, is a 130kg green turtle who spent only three weeks in rehab before being released just a few kilometres north of Bob's release location. Nala was released 6 weeks ago, and it is amazing to see the similarities between Nala and Bob's first few days back in the ocean. Both showed similar movements and covered similar distances!

We are deeply impressed by Bob's adventurous, smart, and very turtle-like behaviours in these first few days back home. Well done, Bob!

Thumbnail Nala and Bob

Catch up on Bob's story

During his eight years at the Two Oceans Aquarium, Bob inspired hundreds of thousands of people to love the ocean and its abundant life just that little bit more. Now that Bob has returned to the ocean, he'll continue to be an incredible turtle storyteller as he sends back data about his adventures. Meanwhile, we'll do what we can to protect his ocean home.

If you missed out on any part of Bob's story, you can catch up here:

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