Turtle to be rehabilitated after shark attack

  • 19 June 2013 | Ann Kunz

Siyabonga the hawksbill turtle is tended to by uShaka Sea World staff after losing a flipper to a shark

uShaka Sea World has taken on a mammoth task in the rehabilitation of an 80kg hawksbill turtle attacked by a shark in Kosi Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The mature female turtle, believed to be more than 10 years old, arrived at uShaka Marine World for treatment on 12 June after being found on the beach, bleeding and disorientated due to an amputated front flipper.

To ensure her survival conservationists from Kosi Bay rushed the reptile to Sodwana Bay, where Ezemvelo Wildlife staff bandaged her amputated limb and rushed her to uShaka Sea World’s Rehabilitation Centre for treatment.

After examining the turtle, muscle tearing and laceration indicated that her wound had been caused by a shark.

uShaka Sea World’s resident veterinarian, Caryl Furniss, assessed the turtle's condition and declared her to be healthy, apart from her injury. Although in good condition, she was given vitamins and rehydration fluids to boost recovery.

Damage caused to the turtle's left front flipper 

Her wound was cleaned, sterilised and bandaged, and she was placed in a dry area to maximise healing. Her shell was scrubbed and disinfected to minimise infection, and she was given antibiotic injections and painkillers to make her comfortable. 

The turtle, named Siyabonga by her carers, will spend the next few weeks resting in dry dock overnight and submerged in a shallow bath during the day. 

“We are hoping that Siya will soon be strong enough to start physiotherapy, so she can adapt to swimming with three flippers. Once she has fully recovered, she will be returned to the ocean where she was found,” says uShaka Sea World aquarist Shaleen Bikka.

A smaller hawksbill was treated at uShaka Sea World in March 2013, after stranding on a beach.

Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) belong to the family Cheloniidae, and are critically endangered.

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