70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

Keena's Journey

On Saturday night 27 December 2020 just before midnight we received a call regarding an injured loggerhead turtle at Sodwana Bay in northern KZN. According to the information we received, the adult turtle had been seen by the turtle tour guides earlier that evening in the surf zone. When the guides returned from their tour, the tide had receded and they realized that both her front flippers were missing. As her wounds were not bleeding too heavily and she appeared otherwise in good condition we felt she had a strong chance of survival and the decision was made to transport her immediately to uShaka Sea World. No-one will ever know how she sustained her injuries and although her wounds were severe, she was strong, healthy and reacted well to stimulus. It appeared as though her injuries had occurred separately from one another and that the most recent was a few days old. It did not appear that all her injuries had been naturally sustained. Normally when an animal sustains such severe injuries their chances of survival are slim, but this lady proved the exception. Her name is Keena which means brave and she certainly is a brave lady who we are cautiously optimistic will survive the next few crucial weeks before beginning physiotherapy. Although she will never be able to return to the ocean (turtles without the use of both front flippers are unable to avoid predation or reach the necessary ocean depths to adequately feed), she will always have a home with us. We know her recovery and rehabilitation will be a long journey, but for now we are just taking it one day at a time. A huge thank you to everyone who assisted in the rescue and transportation of Keena to Durban. 

21 April 2021

Keena, the injured loggerhead turtle, was admitted to our rehabilitation programme on the 27th December 2020 after being found struggling in the breakers at Sodwana Bay. She had suffered severe injury to both her front flippers and her prognosis on arrival was very poor. She was missing half of one flipper and two thirds of the other. Despite this, Keena very quickly lived up to her name and showed the rehab staff what a wonderful fighting spirit she has and how very brave she is. She has spent the past four months in a pool on her own slowly healing and regaining her strength and has made such significant progress that the team decided that it was time to take her for some exercise in the main Open Ocean exhibit. Her rehab pool is approximately 1.2 meters deep which is perfect for recovering turtles but they felt that as she had made such significant progress they would see how she managed in a pool 4 meters deep. It was wonderful to witness the husbandry team carefully transporting her to the main pool and vigilantly watching over her to ensure that all went well. She was monitored to ensure that she did not overexert herself and that she was comfortable holding her breath and swimming to the surface when she needed air. She did remarkably well and spent just under an hour exploring the pool and all its inhabitants before the team took her back to her rehab pool to rest and recover. The flipper stumps are healing well but will take time to heal completely. “Today was an incredibly special day for the team and Keena. Watching her swim today was nothing short of magical, she is a most incredible creature that reminds us daily of how resilient turtles are. Even with the odds stacked against her, she has managed to persevere. We are hopeful that with a bit more time, Keena will be able to move into one of the large exhibits”, said Senior Aquarist Malini Pather.
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