Two rehabilitated green turtles released at Sodwana

By: Ann Kunz

On Monday 29th October, two sub adult Green Turtles, Anna and Bella,  were returned to the ocean in good health after spending time recovering at uShaka Sea World’s Turtle Rehabilitation Facility. The turtles were released on 2-mile reef  at Sodwana  Bay in Isimangaliso Wetland Park MPA from a boat kindly supplied by the Coral Divers  team.

Anna was brought to uShaka Sea World on the 19th of June 2018 after being found clambering on the rocks at Pennington  by local  fishermen.  Bella was found on the 1st July 2018 struggling in the shallows at Hibberdene beach by a local resident.

Anna was found to be positively buoyant and a little underweight on arrival. Radiographs revealed that her lungs appeared to have collapsed from the build-up of air in the coelomic cavity. Although Bella was also found to be suffering from collapsed lungs she had probably been without food for a long while as she was in a much weaker condition than Anna.   The build-up of air in the coelomic cavity is often caused by stress and can result in  turtles being positively buoyant which hinders their ability to submerge and feed.

Both turtles were treated with antibiotics and taken for CT scans.   As was expected, Bella’s convalescence was slower than Anna’s but as time went by she too became stronger and her ability to dive improved.  “We tried to encourage her to dive by offering her  food lower and lower in the water column until finally she was able to reach food on the  bottom of the pool” said uShaka Sea World aquarist, Malini Pather.

When both Anna and Bella passed their medical examinations the rehabilitation team were absolutely delighted and immediately started planning their release.

“Releasing an animal that you have nursed back to health is always emotional  but when you release a turtle like Bella who’s prognosis was so guarded in the first few weeks after arriving, it is even more wonderful” said Malini.