Finally, the tracking news you've been waiting for: Bheni the green turtle's first update! Let's hear more about Bheni, Pan (a loggerhead turtle), and Turbo, (a green turtle) from Talitha Noble, Conservation Manager at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation's Turtle Conservation Centre.
The turtles' journey so far:
In his first 12 days back at sea, Bheni the green turtle is fulfilling all our De Hoop turtle dreams!
We know that the De Hoop Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a place turtles visit intentionally. Litchi, a green turtle the Turtle Conservation Centre released in 2022, spent 473 days exploring the MPA! There have also been numerous aerial sightings of foraging turtles in the area, and many more signs of turtles loving this abundant MPA.
When the turtle team started discussing the release of turtles in De Hoop Nature Reserve, we were intrigued to see whether any of them would hang out in the MPA for a while or quickly move along.
We will have to wait for the acoustic tagging data from the five turtles we released in the De Hoop MPA in May 2023 before we can get insights into their movements, but with Bheni, we get immediate satisfaction!
Whilst there was no wrong or right move for Bheni, it is incredibly satisfying to see that he is enjoying the De Hoop MPA and deciding to spend his first days back home in the warm, protected water with ample algae to feed on!
His first few days were spent heading down the coast towards the western boundary of the MPA (the first few days of his data are missing on the map for technical reasons). The western area of the MPA is close to Skipskop, where Litchi spent much of her time. Bheni likely foraged around these coastal shallows just like Litchi, where rocky platforms are perfect for scratching plastrons (bottom shell) and lots of snacking!
After about a week, Bheni started moving towards the more eastern boundary of the MPA and is now just around the corner from Infanta and Witsand.
Our champion long-distance swimmer, loggerhead turtle Pan, is not slowing down this festive season! He is preparing to spend his second Christmas back in the big blue.
Last Christmas, Pan was almost 1 000km offshore from Langebaan and this Christmas is no different! Now, he is about 900km further north and 500km off the coast of the Namib Naukluft Park. Naukluft means "narrow ravine" in German; this park has an epic mountain range that certainly has ample narrow ravines populated by mountain zebras and leopards.
Pan has spent almost three months moving northward, covering a good chunk of the Namibian coastline. Could it be that Pan is treasure-hunting for diamonds and enjoying yummy jellyfish simultaneously?
Either way, his journey has been remarkable for a young loggerhead turtle.
Since his release 522 days ago, Pan has travelled 9 500km! For the last three months, he’s been averaging an impressive daily distance of 12.2 km.
The only thing to say about Turbo's movements in the last three months is that he is living up to his name!
In just three months, speedy Turbo has covered a stretch of 1 100 km, crossing more than half of the Namibian coastline in eight weeks! Currently, he is only 500km away from Angola – wow!
It has been just over a year since Turbo was released and for his first 10 months at sea, he made it his mission to explore the West Coast of South Africa. It is interesting to see that he has recently changed tact and headed in a much straighter line.
To date, he has travelled 11 065 km, and since deciding to head north three months ago, Turbo has covered an average of 14.7km per day!
We are so proud of our travelling turtles - not only are they proving themselves with their incredible journeys, but they are also making invaluable contributions to turtle research in South Africa! The ultimate goal for all of the turtles undergoing rehabilitation with our Turtle Conservation Centre is release, and it is heart-warming to follow along on their adventures!
Catch up on turtle tales
At the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation's Turtle Conservation Centre, we rescue, rehabilitate, and release turtles, each of which has a uniquely inspiring story.
If you missed out on any turtle tales, you can catch up here: