uShaka Sea World celebrates National Marine Week

National Marine Week was celebrated at uShaka Sea World from 12 to 18 October, and the public was encouraged to take a keen interest in caring for our oceans.

As South Africans living on the southern tip of Africa, flanked by 2 798km of coastline, our oceans are certainly the most all-inclusive reason for us to celebrate this special day.

Butternut learns to adapt to life with a disability

The ocean is one of the most important foundations for the South African economy, as it supports shipping, fishing and tourism. Not only does it provide for us economically, it also provides for our health in numerous ways. 

National Marine Week is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the great privilege of living in South Africa, with fresh ocean air to breathe and the ocean to swim in. However, with this privilege comes responsibility and caring for our oceans requires a joint effort from all South Africans. 

uShaka Sea World works to help care for the oceans and the many animals that live in it. We strive to rehabilitate injured animals for release back into the wild, and recently added a new little addition to our list. On 20 August 2015 Butternut, a juvenile African penguin, was found at sea off Scottburgh, battling to remain afloat despite the calm sea conditions. The penguin was weak, dehydrated and had a badly broken right wing. She was brought to uShaka Sea World and attended to on arrival by rehabilitation staff.

Despite her chances of survival looking bleak, she was weighed, rehydrated and left to rest overnight on padded towels. The following morning she seemed a little more alert and was offered food, dewormed and started on a course of antibiotics. 

Over the next month her condition improved slowly and steadily. She regained her balance, put on 1.4kg and started taking an interest in her surroundings. By 19 September she had recovered sufficiently for uShaka Sea World veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen to surgically remove the dead portion of her broken wing. The operation was successful and once again, Butternut was given antibiotics and a chance to recover.

Kelly de Klerk cuddles Butternut, as the penguin slowly recovers from her ordeal at sea

This little survivor recently started physiotherapy and is making great progress, using her shortened wing in the water. Butternut is gradually being introduced to the other penguins in the colony.

With summer fast approaching and arrangements being made with family and friends to explore the rock pools, lie lazily on the warm sand, frolic in the waves, take boat trips or just sit for a while, allowing nature’s beauty to restore peace within us, let’s remember to take our litter home with us. That way we will ensure healthy oceans, and prevent unnecessary injuries to marine creatures due to human negligence.

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