Turtle rehabilitation

Water physio helped restore Napoleon's strength

In July 2011 staff members from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife brought an adult green turtle to the rehabilitation facility at uShaka Sea World after he was found stranded in a severely compromised condition on the beach just north of Sodwana Bay.

Upon arrival at uShaka Sea World the rehabilitation team quickly set about assessing his condition and immediately administered rehydration fluids to alleviate severe dehydration. Such a beautiful strong turtle deserved a suitable name, so he was christened Napoleon.

Napoleon was covered with barnacles, indicating that he had spent many months floating on top of the ocean without the ability to dive and feed. Adult green turtles feed on sea algae in the warmer waters of the West Indian Ocean and need to be able to dive and hold their breath to feed.

Blood samples were taken and he was put on a course of antibiotics to contain the infection which was causing him so much trouble and a slow journey to recovery began.

Over the next few months Sea World staff continued working long after closing time on an almost daily basis encouraging Napoleon to eat. When he began eating and the infection was under control, he started gaining strength thanks to special water physio. His journey to recovery was marked with enormous challenges and became one of the most successful turtle rehabilitation stories in the history of uShaka Sea World.

The curatorial staff take good care of Napoleon

After receiving a clean veterinary bill, passing his swimming and diving tests and eating everything on offer, it was decided to introduce Napoleon to the other turtles in the Turtle Exhibit while he continued to recover.

On 5 February 2012 after seven months in hospital, Napoleon was introduced to the Turtle Exhibit where he spends his days in the sunshine and company of other turtles. We are uncertain whether Napoleon will survive on his own in the ocean, but for now he is doing well in the exhibit, under the forever watchful eyes of his caregivers who are holding thumbs for a full recovery.

Don’t forget to look out for the most handsome turtle at Sea World, or ask one of the staff to point him out to you.