More than 50 loggerhead turtles in rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World

Forty-eight hatchling and four post-hatchling loggerhead turtles, along with one juvenile green turtle, were admitted to the uShaka Sea World Rehabilitation Centre in early November.

The young turtles were flown up from Cape Town, where they had spent more than six months recovering at Two Oceans Aquarium, after being caught in the wrong ocean current and battling to survive icy Cape temperatures far from the warm Indian Ocean that is their home.

Aquarists working in the turtle rehabilitation facility, Jamie-Lee Swartz, Malini Pather and Kelly Brown with the young loggerheads. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

 

For the first few years of their lives young turtles survive by floating in the open ocean in water around 22°C, which means they could not be released in Cape waters.

The loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas) will eventually be released 75 nautical miles off Richards Bay where sea temperatures and the concentration of food are ideal for young, growing turtles. Juvenile turtles are well adapted to life in the open ocean.  

The young turtles' diet consists mainly of small jellyfish, by-the-wind-sailors, bluebottles, raft hydroids and other small creatures found on the ocean’s surface.

Turtles are particularly susceptible to ocean pollution and often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. When turtles ingest plastic, they can suffer intestinal blockages, resulting in malnutrition, reduced growth rates and even death. Plastic and other marine pollution which finds its way into the ocean also poses a risk to marine animals that can become entangled in the debris. 

The IUCN has recently upgraded the status of the loggerhead turtle from "endangered" to "vulnerable" which is very good news as it means that the good work being done by ordinary people all over the world who are trying to look after the ocean, is actually helping the turtles.

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