Cape Town - More than 35 tiny loggerhead turtles have been rescued off the beaches of the Garden Route, from Tergniet to Gouritsmond, after washing ashore due to an ice cold ocean current and rough seas in the area over the weekend.
Spokesperson of the Marine Protocol Group in the area, Tersia Marais told Traveller24 the baby turtles weigh only about 30 grams (adults weigh around 135kgs), and are extremely vulnerable to predators and the elements when they're on land.
Over the weekend, rangers scouted the beaches in the Mossel Bay coastal region and rescued most of the 35 little turtles. Members of the public also found individual turtles at Hartenbos, Tergniet, Vleesbaai and in the Fransmanshoek Conservancy over the weekend.
Once rescued, the turtles were taken to local vet Frans de Graaff for analysis and treatment.
De Graaff explained on the Hartenbos Animal Hospital Facebook page that the turtles cannot be released back into the sea immediately, as parasites have become attached to them. "We are treating the little loggerheads, and feeding them with red bait, or pyura stolonifera, and mussels".
The turtles can only be released when they weigh 400g. Therefore, they will be located to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.
The Two Oceans Aquarium rehabilitates the stranded turtles and once they are strong and healthy enough, they are sent to uShaka Sea World where they are released into the warmer waters off the KwaZulu-Natal coast, as was done in December last year.
SEE PICS: Blissful freedom as Two Oceans Aquarium releases rehabilitated turtles
Earlier this year, the Two Oceans Aquarium asked members of the public to keep eye out for turtles stranded on Cape beaches. In a media statement at the time, the aquarium explained that between April and June every year, juvenile loggerhead turtles wash up onto beaches in and around Cape Town, as far as Struisbaai.
These Mossel Bay coastal region sightings, however, happened further than anticipated by the aquarium.
Loggerhead turtles are a vulnerable, threatened specie, and have a low reproductive rate. Females lay an average of four egg clutches and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two to three years.
Want to help? Here's how:
Anyone who comes across a loggerhead turtle, whether it be on the beaches of the Garden Route or in Cape Town, can pick it up and transport it to safety.
Ensure that the turtle is not submerged or covered with water during transportation. Fresh water is also safe for these turtles.
The Two Oceans Aquarium also asked that turtle rescuers make a note of exactly where the turtle was found.
Loggerhead sightings in the Mossel Bay area can be reported to Tersia Marais on 072 227 4715, or the Hartenbos Animal Hospital on 044 6951086 or 084 6203139. For other, nation-wide loggerhead turtle concerns, contact the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) on 082 990 5954, or Cape Town's Two Ocean Aquarium on 021 418 3823.
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