uShaka Sea World is a partner of the KZN Marine Stranding Network . This is a group of skilled and trained professionals affiliated to a variety of organisations working together to provide knowledge, experience and resources to assist at marine stranding events while ensuring the best possible outcomes for animal welfare and/or conservation. uShaka Sea World provides training on first response care of stranded marine animals, behavioural and health assessments of new strandings as well as technical and operational assistance in strandings.
uShaka Sea World is the only facility along the KwaZulu-Natal coast with the specialised facilities and experience to care for and rehabilitate stranded marine animals . These stranded animals are cared for by dedicated and experienced teams in our specially designed rehabilitation centre. Once healthy, most of the animals are returned to the sea or, if this is not possible, they are given a home at uShaka Sea World or elsewhere as prescribed by the relevant government authority.
Please contact uShaka Sea World on +27(0)31 328 8222 if you come across a marine animal that you believe is in distress.
Download the Stranded Marine Animal Booklet.
Sub-antarctic fur seals, South African fur seals and Southern elephant seals periodically wash up on KwaZulu-Natal beaches, sometimes thousands of kilometres from their home range. These seals are often exhausted when they reach our shores and need time to rest peacefully before returning to the sea. Seals on busy beaches are often harassed by public and their pets, so we relocate them to remote beaches where they can rest without disturbance.
If seals are ill or injured, they are transported as soon as possible to the dedicated uShaka Sea World rehabilitation centre for treatment. Recovery can take anything from a week to many months before a seal is strong enough to be released.
African penguins are the most common penguin species to appear on KwaZulu-Natal beaches. African penguins are classified as an endangered species, so all stranded penguins are brought to uShaka Sea World for the appropriate care and treatment. Some simply need a little space and privacy to complete their moult. When our veterinary team deem the penguins fit and healthy, they are flown to the Cape for release. SAAMBR works closely with The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (
Turtles are often victims of pollution at sea. They can become entangled in nets, fishing line or may swallow plastic bags.
As slow-moving creatures, some are injured by the propellers of boats. Where possible, stranded turtles are treated and nursed back to health by uShaka Sea World staff.
Once they have fully recovered, the turtles are flipper tagged and released offshore, sometimes with the assistance of cruise ships, so that they can return to their wandering lifestyle. Some of the turtles are satellite tagged, so that we may follow their journeys once released.
The success rate of rehabilitated turtles is generally quite high, due to the dedication and hard work of our committed team.
Dolphins and whales may strand along the beaches of KZN for many reasons that may be natural or as a result of human activities.
Some of these reasons include:
Human activities include:
Button, a juvenile African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), was found washed ashore in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South coast in August 2015. She was severely dehydrated and had a broken right wing. X-rays revealed that the broken wing posed a serious threat to her health, so the uShaka Sea World veterinary team decided to partially amputate the damaged wing. Button recovered very well and was able to swim and dive in no time. Because of her wing she is not fit to be released and has been given a home at uShaka Sea World. Button has moulted into adulthood and is easily recognised by her half wing and the unusual double band at her throat. She has also paired with a male African penguin named Larnie.
Two giant brindle bass (Epinephelus lanceolatus) preside over the Large Shark exhibit in the uShaka Sea World aquarium. Deon and Stanley have inspired and awed thousands of visitors with their formidable appearance and size. Deon and Stanley have been trained to feed at station points in the exhibit. This is to ensure that they get the right amount of food and that they do not steal food away from the sharks. Deon is the larger of the two, weighs about 190kgs and Stanley weighs about 110kgs.
ORI scientists contributed to an IUCN assessment of all rockcod species, and the global status of brindle bass was declared to be “vulnerable to extinction.” This was based on their increasing rarity in the wild, together with their estuarine-dependence and the fact that adults are highly resident. These factors were the motivation for the brindle bass being declared a completely protected species in South Africa.
Meeting Deon and Stanley in our exhibit is indeed an awe inspiring privilege.
Freddy, our well-loved Green Iguana is about 15 years old. He joined Dangerous Creatures at uShaka Sea World in 2008. On most days Freddy can be seen wandering around the outside of the Dangerous Creatures exhibit, meeting our visitors and enjoying the sunshine. Freddy also enjoys walking around the inside of the exhibit, sometime leaving a little ‘calling card’ for us to clean up.
Freddy’s laid back nature is quite unusual for this reptile species. It means that he can help people to overcome their fear of reptiles. He seems to enjoy the attention and can be seen closing his eyes when stroked. His specially designed diet ensures that his nutritional requirements are met. His favourite food is strawberry and lately he has found the coffee shop next door to Dangerous Creatures stocks the fruit and he wanders over to get his treats.
Gambit is an Atlantic ocean Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). He weighs around 490kg and measures 3.65m in length. He is father to seven of the nine dolphins born at uShaka Sea World and grandfather to one. He is a true ocean ambassador and has, since 1976, helped us share a message of conservation in a way that no human could. He has an energy and presence that is remarkable.
A young Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusilis) pup washed up on a beach in East London in 1996. He was found by a school group and sent to us for special care. He was named Jabulani, meaning “Happiness” in Zulu. He only weighed 35kg on arrival at the formerly known Sea World Durban. Today Jabu is the largest seal at uShaka Sea World, averaging 150kgs. He is very gentle and has met thousands of visitors to the seal stadium. He is always adored by guests during seal presentations due to his size, comical appearance, impressive behaviours and placid disposition.
In July 2011 staff members from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife brought an adult green turtle (Chelonia mydas) to the rehabilitation facility at uShaka Sea World after he was found stranded in a severely compromised condition on the beach just north of Sodwana Bay.
Upon arrival at uShaka Sea World the rehabilitation team assessed his condition and immediately administered rehydration fluids. He was covered with barnacles, indicating that he had spent many months floating on top of the ocean without the ability to dive and feed. Adult green turtles feed on sea algae in the warmer waters of the Western Indian Ocean and need to be able to dive and hold their breath to feed.
Over the next few months uShaka Sea World staff worked exceptionally hard each day to encourage Napoleon to eat. When he began eating and the infection was under control, he started gaining strength. After receiving a clean veterinary bill, passing his swimming and diving tests and eating everything on offer, it was decided to introduce Napoleon to the other turtles in the Turtle Exhibit while he continued to recover. In February 2012, after seven months in hospital, Napoleon was introduced to the Turtle Exhibit where he now spends his days in the sunshine and company of other turtles. It is unlikely that Napoleon will survive on his own in the ocean, and each day he inspires people to care for our oceans.
Notch is a ragged tooth shark (Carcharias taurus). She joined the uShaka Sea World family in 2003. She was named Notch because of the prominent notch on her dorsal fin. She is the most popular female in our exhibit and each year she mates with Scott, our male ragged tooth shark. We know that they have mated when we see the bite marks on her body. Male sharks bite the female to hold on during mating. Her pregnancies have produced two healthy pups. Storm, born in 2013 at a length of 111 cm and weight of 6.9 kg, and Tony, born in 2014 at a length of 104 cm. Both juvenile sharks were relocated to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth (UK) in 2015.
Ragged tooth sharks are named for their smooth-edged, pointed teeth that are designed for catching a variety of fish, which are usually swallowed whole. Raggies, as they are affectionately called, are usually slow moving. They swallow air so that they do not need to keep swimming to prevent sinking. They are one of the few sharks that can actively pump water over their gills and therefore can hover for long periods.