Our tribe of travelling turtles have made incredible progress in the short time since our last update. Bob, Pan, Turbo, and Litchi have racked up an impressive 23 900km between them! Let's hear more from Talitha Noble, Conservation Manager at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation's Turtle Conservation Centre.
The turtles' journey so far:
It has been 188 days since Bob, the beloved green turtle, was released. 188 days of Bob steadily missioning in the ocean - what a journey! In this time, Bob has travelled 9 500 km, sent us 1 600 tracking transmissions, and swam through or past 28 of South Africa's 42 Marine Protected Areas (MPA).
We recently celebrated MPA Day at the Aquarium - check it out to learn more about where Bob was exploring.
The last time we checked in with Bob, she was swimming in the surface currents of the Southeast Atlantic Ocean. She started cruising in these surface eddies in April and is still going strong. What does this mean for Bob? On the one hand, these loops may seem slightly disorganised but on the other, there is great turtle wisdom in what Bob is getting up to.
Conserving energy and finding food has always been a top priority for Bob (as we learned while she was undergoing rehabilitation at the Turtle Conservation Centre), and it certainly does not seem like this has changed. Bob is not far (about 20km) from the Southeast Atlantic Sea Mounts, phenomenal submarine mountains formed by volcanic activity. These seamounts have a lot of biological richness both in nutrients and marine animals. Sea birds and turtles are often found in these areas, and I would not be surprised if Bob was enjoying some delicious treats in the vicinity due to these seamounts.
As always, we are proud of Bob and blown away by her tenacity and endurance, which are beneficial traits out at sea!
It is just over a whole year that Pan has been out at sea! Pan is a juvenile loggerhead turtle who was rescued in 2019. With Pan's tracker tag, this is the first time that our team at the Turtle Conservation Centre has had insights into the behaviours and movements of a juvenile loggerhead. It has been fascinating!
Pan has not shied away from the colder waters of the West Coast, spending a great deal of time in these nutrient-rich areas. At one point, he moved over 1 000km offshore! After spending March and April hugging the coastline, Pan has recently spent more time moving further from land - he is now 200km offshore from the Namibian border! We have been really grateful that Pan's tag has allowed us to track 7 700km of his journey so far and hope that we get to join for more of it!
Our feisty little green turtle, Turbo has been at sea for eight months now! In that time, he has covered an impressive 3 900km. Currently, he's 80km west of Lamberts Bay.
Much like Pan, Turbo is a West Coast turtle, prioritising the abundant food available in cold water over toastier temperatures. One of the remarkable things we have been learning from our tagged turtles is that they can handle chilly temperatures for extended periods of time, especially when food is involved! Turbo is in 15°C water and likely enjoying some ocean treats like algae and seaweed on the surface. We look forward to seeing if Turbo stays in this area or decides to explore somewhere else.
Litchi is a green turtle who was released in January 2022. Since then, she's covered 2 800km! This journey has been a curious one to track.
After her release, Litchi spent a few weeks making her way to De Hoop MPA, and once she got to this perfect spot, she saw no reason to leave. For the last 15 months, her home has been at Skipskop, within the protected area of DeHoop. These beautiful coastal waters are rich with algae and often boast warmer temperatures (averaging about 20°C).
We were interested when, in June this year, Litchi left her haven and started moving up the coast towards Mosselbay. Here, she made a big loop and headed quite far south (70km offshore) before returning "home" to De Hoop MPA for a while.
It will be fascinating to see what happens next as Litchi has, once again, decided to venture up the coast. She's spent the first few days of August making tracks in an easterly direction. Has the travel bug bitten her? Is she hitchhiking with some whales?
Days since release: 188
Distance travelled: 9 500km
Nearest town: Cape Agulhas
Water depth: 5 000m
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:
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