Celebrating National Marine Week at uShaka Sea World – 12 to 18 October 2015

  • October 15, 2015

With National Marine Week being celebrated at uShaka Sea World from 12 to 18 October 2015, the public are being encouraged to take a keen interest in caring for our oceans.

As South Africans living on the southern tip of Africa surrounded by 2 798km of coastline, the oceans are certainly the most all-inclusive reason to celebrate.

Kelly de Klerk with Butternut the penguin

The ocean is one of the most important foundations for the South African economy as it supports shipping, fishing and tourism. Not only does it provide for us economically, it provides for our health in numerous ways.

National Marine Week is a chance to remind ourselves of the great privilege we have living in South Africa – we need the ocean to breathe and love the ocean to swim in. However, with this privilege comes responsibility, and there needs to be a joint effort from all South Africans to look after our oceans.

uShaka Sea World works to help care for the oceans and animals that live in it. We strive to rehabilitate injured animals for release back into the wild, and recently added a new little addition to our list.

On 20 August 2015, Butternut, a juvenile African penguin, was found at sea off Scottburgh beach, battling to remain afloat despite the calm sea conditions as she was weak, dehydrated and had a badly broken right wing. She was brought to uShaka Sea World and attended to on arrival by the rehabilitation staff on duty.

Despite her chances of survival looking bleak, she was weighed, rehydrated and left to rest overnight on padded towels. The following morning, as she seemed a little more alert, she was offered food, dewormed and began a course of antibiotics.

Butternut during a morning physio session in the water

Over the next month her condition improved slowly and steadily. She regained her balance, put on 1.4kg and started taking an interest in her surroundings, and by 19 September she had recovered sufficiently for the uShaka Sea World veterinarian, Dr Francois Lampen, to surgically remove the dead portion of her broken wing.

The operation was successful and once again Butternut was given antibiotics and a chance to recover.

This little survivor recently started physiotherapy and is making great progress using her shortened wing in the water, and is being introduced to the other penguins in the colony.

With summer fast approaching and arrangements being made with family and friends to explore rock pools, lie lazily on warm beach sand, frolic in the waves, take the boat out, or just sit for a while allowing nature’s beauty to restore peace within us – let’s remember to take our litter home with us to ensure our oceans stay healthy and help avoid more injured creatures due to human negligence.

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