#WorldTurtleDay: 106 Turtle hatchlings gets second chance after release back into the wild

2019-05-23 10:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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The animal that sparked the anti-straw campaign, the turtle is one of the world's most endangered species.

And in South Africa, five of the world's species have either visited its shores or have made their nests on its beaches, hopeful for a future for their young.

On World Turtle Day, we put a sharp focus on their plight against pollution and other human-made struggles. But the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) is going one step extra with the release of 106 rescued turtle hatchlings just off the coast of Durban on Thursday.

They were part of a batch sent up by Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, who has been busy with a major rescue operation the last month on South Africa's south coast between Plettenberg Bay and Cape Point. 

rescue baby turtle with barnacles

Senior Aquarist Kevin Spiby captured this photo of one of our incoming hatchlings - it is covered with goose barnacles that weigh more than the hatchling itself! For these barnacles to grow, this hatchling would have had to be adrift for a very long time before washing up - a real sign of just how resilient they can be. (Photo: Two Oceans Aquarium)

rescue baby turtles

Ready to leave the Two Oceans Aquarium rehabilitation centre - these hatchlings have all overcome the most crucial part of their recovery process. (Photo: Thalitha Noble/Two Oceans Aquarium)

“One loggerhead turtle hatchling may not make a difference to the world turtle population figures, but each time we save one animal, we are giving it another chance to reach adulthood and reproduce. Who knows, perhaps one of these little turtles will, in the future, return to nest on a moonlit beach on KwaZulu-Natal’s remote northern beaches”, said uShaka Sea World Senior Aquarist, Malini Pather in a SAAMBR statement.

READ: #EcoTravels: Turning turtle poachers into custodians in iSimangaliso 

rescue baby turtle

Little Nubby's injured flipper has healed, it's time to fly back to KwaZulu-Natal for a second chance at survival! (Photo: Jessica Sloan, Two Oceans Aquarium)

Turtles are very important for the ocean's ecosystem, by maintaining coral reef systems and bringing essential nutrients from the oceans to the beaches and coastal dunes. In iSimangaliso Wetland Park, loggerhead and leatherback turtles start nesting on its beaches from the start of November every year, and their eggs start hatching between January through to March.

The green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles just visit our waters for holidays, but they can also easily get in trouble and land up on our shores. 

Two Oceans Aquarium will be hosting turtle-themed activities with prizes until 26 May, which has been an important centre for turtle rehabilitation who are returned to the wild once they are strong enough.

Their most well-known rescuee was the giant Yoshi the loggerhead turtle who called the aquarium home for many years before her release in December 2017. They have been tracking her ever since and saw her swimming more than 8 600km in her first year of release. 

WATCH: Ecotourism in the UAE is helping out the endangered Hawksbill turtle

Here are other spots to see turtles in the wild in SA, mostly within the iSimangaliso borders. Click here for reputable tour operators. 

Sodwana Bay

READ: Add scuba to your holiday activities: What you should know about doing your PADI certification

Cape Vidal


ALSO WATCH: Turtles on Christmas Island battle against pollution

Island Rock

Bhanga Nek

CHECK OUT: Where in the world is Yoshi? We're having fun tracking SA's favourite turtle

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