Last week we joined the Turtle Road Trip Team, from the Two Oceans Aquarium… to learn more about turtles. We are heading into turtle season, when young turtles wash up on the beaches along the Southern Cape Coast. It is important to know what exactly to do if you do find a turtle washed up on the beach and this post will tell you all about it…
Meet Zoku the mascot turtle, ready for his road tripping adventure…
Meet Talitha, the Two Ocean’s dedicated turtle rehab facility co-ordinator and all round fun ocean ambassador…
Why Do Turtles Wash Up On Our Beaches
Turtles nest on the north eastern shores of Southern Africa, and when they hatch they head out into the Indian Ocean, where their first oceanic encounter is with the very fast flowing Agulhas Current that rushes down the coast until it reaches the tip of Africa, whereupon it turns back towards the Indian Ocean and flows towards Australia.
As the current takes a sharp turn towards the East, so a number of turtle hatchlings will find themselves battered by the ocean and the uncompromising coast, and they get washed up and stranded on our shores. These turtles are usually in very delicate health when they arrive on the shore, often injured, malnourished and exhausted. In fact they may even look as if they are no longer living, but incredibly they are still alive. The most critical thing when finding a hatchling is not to return it to the water as they are too weak to cope with the stress of survival… pop your turtle onto a piece of towel in a well ventilated shoebox or ice-cream box (cut holes in it)… and get it to the nearest collection point.
The Turtle Road Trip
The Turtle Road Trip is really a series of talks at strategic points along our coastline (centres where turtles can be dropped for rehab), so that when folks find little turtles stranded on the beach they know what to do with them and how to take care of them. The meeting we attended at Primi Piatti in Muizenberg had three speakers.
Sarah from Sharkspotters, told us about their collection point at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenburg. In fact any turtle in the South Peninsula, should be taken there and they will get your frail little turtle to the Two Oceans Rehab Centre.
Talitha, sharing how they rescue and rehab their little turtles and then return them to the sea. Upon arrival, the turtles are measured and cleaned, and any injuries are immediately addressed and they certainly go the extra mile for these babies. If they need surgery or x-rays to check them out, or even physio, there is a medical team on hand for them. They are then put into holding tanks, for a period, and they are put on a healthy diet to get their strength back. They are stimulated as turtles in the wild would be, and they are fed exciting (to turtles) meals… on a feeding rock… basically setting them up to return to the ocean once they reach their full strength again.
And Hayley from Rethink the Bag and the Environmental Campaigner at the Aquarium, was there to tell us how we can each care for turtles, even if we don’t find them on the beach. By caring for the ocean we can make a huge difference to the survival of these incredible creatures. This photo shows a jar of trawled water taken from the turtle’s environment in the Indian Ocean. The water is full of small plastic bits as well as nurdles. You can make a difference just by ditching plastic bags… South Africa alone uses 8 billion plastic shopping bags a year… that is a horrific number and we really can address that.
The great thing about Hayley and all her presentations is that she is full of ideas for things that you can action in your life today… you don’t have to wait, you can start making a difference today…
And now that the Turtle Road Trip is drawing to an end, we are more excited than ever to learn more about turtles and what we can do to care for them.
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