Stranded turtles

  • 25 June 2012 | SAAMBR

A stranded turtle brought to uShaka Sea World for help

Each year between December and March, uShaka Sea World receives hatchling turtles that are found by members of the public and brought in. Sometimes well-meaning and caring individuals “rescue” hatchlings that they find out at sea.

Young hatchlings spend the first few years of their lives drifting at the surface of the ocean feeding off jellyfish and other small prey. They are often seen around flotsam and may even drift on the currents around entire ocean basins. These turtles are not in trouble, they are just where they're supposed to be.

However, if they are found in the rock pools, on the beach or injured, they very likely are in trouble and should be brought into a marine rehabilitation facility such as uShaka Sea World at uShaka Marine World.

Turtles like Copperfield, in the picture below, who came to uShaka Sea World on 22 March 2009 weighing less than 50g, are hand-raised by a team of experts until they are old enough to be released. Copperfield was released in May 2010.

On admittance, the young turtles are assessed, treated and monitored. As their condition improves they can develop ferocious appetites and never miss the opportunity to eat almost any food offered. Their diet consists of a mix of protein, vegetables and vitamins and is adjusted according to their growth and weight. In the picture above you see Raphael II being weighed.

Raphael II was brought into uShaka Sea World in early March 2010 and is doing well under the watchful eyes of his caregivers. You cannot sex a young turtle so we have been presumptuous in deciding that he is a boy.

Turtles are fed and cared for until well enough to be released

Both Copperfield and Raphael II are loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and are likely to have hatched on the Maputaland beaches.

Remember, you might not be able to change the world but every positive action, regardless of how insignificant it appears, does make a difference.

If you find a turtle in trouble contact uShaka Sea World on +27 (0)31 328 8222.

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