By: Ann Kunz
On Tuesday 29th May, we released two turtles, Mossel and Wellington in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mossel, a beautiful sub-adult hawksbill turtle was found stranded on a beach in Mossel Bay in August 2017 and taken to Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, where she was stabilised before being driven to uShaka Sea World for further treatment.
Hawksbill turtles are ideally suited to warmer waters and it was thought she had found herself in the wrong current and could not manage the cold Western Cape temperatures. This is what could have caused her lung infection and severe dehydration.
“She was one of the most seriously compromised turtles I have ever seen and I had grave doubts she would survive,” said Malini Pather, a senior quarantine aquarist at uShaka Sea World.
“It took her three months to start moving around, showing interest in her surroundings and feeding on her own, but once she started she never looked back,” added Malini. iSimangaliso Wetland Park, where Mossel was released, is one of South Africa’s Marine Protected Areas.
This Marine Protected Areas is an ideal release site for rehabilitated turtles as the inshore and offshore reefs offer both a measure of protection and an abundant food source for the turtles once they are released. “Every time I am involved in the release of rehabilitated turtles I am filled with a sense of pride and joy. After witnessing Mossel’s brave and determined struggle which lasted many months, I was overwhelmed.”
“Turtles truly are incredible animals and it is an honour to be able to assist them when they get into trouble and help in a small way towards their conservation,” said uShaka Sea World director Tony McEwan.
Wellington, a green turtle (Chelonia mydas), arrived at uShaka Sea World as a tiny hatchling with a flipper injury in October 2016 after being found stranded on a beach in KwaZulu-Natal. After spending 18 months in our care at uShaka Sea World, Wellington was also deemed fit and strong enough for release.