A large number of turtle hatchlings have washed onshore across South Africa and are being cared for at the Two Oceans Aquarium; this is how they eat lunch.
Cape Town, South Africa – As the Western Cape enters winter, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation’s Turtle Rescue Programme team are being kept busy by vast numbers of stranded loggerhead turtle hatchlings being rescued on the southern coast, from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Point.
More than 127 turtle hatchlings have made their way to their rehabilitation centre, after being rescued by vigilant members of the public. They are expecting that number to grow significantly as the Cape continues to be hammered by strong winds and swell.
We reported earlier this month that the number of rescues is much higher this year due to active public participation. The civic engagement has been boosted through education by initiatives like the Turtle Road Trip and simply by word of mouth from the growing Rescue Network; more people are becoming aware of what they can do to save a turtle.
“We’re getting a lot of rescues in, largely due to a really efficient Rescue Network that is operating well. I’m also excited by the fact that it seems like a lot of the turtles washing up are actually being rescued, which means that we have our bases covered along the coastline. That’s quite a comforting feeling, knowing that people are aware and actively looking. Even though it means more work for us, it’s exciting because it means the system is working,” said Conservation Coordinator Talitha Noble.
The team are working hard to care for every turtle that comes in. The reason so many of these hatchlings wash up on the Western Cape coastlines is that when they are born on the Northern beaches in KwaZulu-Natal, they make their way into the ocean and towards the warm Agulhas current.
If a hatchling is lucky, it will be carried by the Agulhas Current as it turns east off the coast of the Western Cape, and out into the warm Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy for the little hatchlings, and many of them are ejected from the Agulhas Current into the cold water of the Atlantic. This water is too cold for these hatchlings to survive and they get gradually weaker and weaker as they try to return to the Agulhas – an effort that is made increasingly difficult in bad weather, or if the turtle has been harmed by ingesting plastic pollution.
It is these weakened hatchlings that inevitably wash up on the Western Cape’s coast, and without human intervention, they have no chance of surviving. We have a responsibility to help these animals.
The hatchlings that wash up in the Western Cape are all taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium. Once they have been rehabilitated and are healthy enough, they are released back into the ocean. If hatchlings are found, these are the organisations you can contact for help.
“Organisations listed below have worked with our turtle team to ensure that their staff have the needed training and resources to help ensure a successful turtle rescue. If you find a turtle, please get in touch with the nearest network point.”
- GENERAL: Contact Rescue Network Coordinator Tracy on 083 300 1663
- V&A Waterfront, Two Oceans Aquarium
- Helpdesk: 021 418 3823
- Strandfontein, NSRI
- Nicky: 082 496 0350 / 021 434 4011
- Muizenberg, Shark Spotters
- Nicole: 072 897 6583
- Sarah: 078 174 4244
- Hermanus, South African Shark Conservancy
- Bjorn: 079 765 8131
- Natalie: 084 090 3297
- Gansbaai, African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary
- Theanette: 0826122093
- Brenda: 076 061 3114
- Meredith: 082 746 5579
- Rescue: 072 5987 117)
- Struisbaai, NSRI Station 30
- Pieter: 076 274 1800
- Rynard 083 273 8234
- Witsand, Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust
- Craig: 082 537 1286 / 066 019 6686
- Stilbaai, NSRI
- Arrie: 082 990 5978)
- Leonie: 083 265 3515
- Stilbaai, CapeNature
- John: 071 392 8408
- Jerome: 071 569 2606
- Wilderness, George & Sedgefield, SANParks
- Jonathan: 084 714 7793
- Kynsna, SANParks
- Owen: 044 302 564 3/ 08 3650 8649
- Megan: 083 650 8649
- Nick: 082 775 1659
- Plettenberg Bay, Plett Stranding Network
- Chanal: 072 317 2280
- Plettenberg Bay, Nature’s Valley Trust
- Mark: 084 549 8498
- Plettenberg Bay, Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
- Cam: 082 486 1515
Recently the aquarium shared a video of one of the hatchlings being fed lunch. It hasn’t learned to dive just yet, but it is adorable to watch.
— Two Oceans Aquarium (@2OceansAquarium) May 22, 2019