Coast KZN

04 Jan 2024

Adult Loggerhead Turtle suffers multiple injuries

(Southlands Sun) Picture: SAAMBR. Dr Carol Knox with Delena the rescued turtle.

The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) has reported that a large adult Loggerhead Turtle was admitted into the care of the uShaka Sea World Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. The turtle had suffered multiple injuries to her head and clearly needed medical attention, so the staff from iSimangaliso Wetland Park made the three-hour journey from Bhanga Nek to uShaka Sea World to assist.

Apart from her injuries, she appeared to be in good condition and the decision was made to perform immediate diagnostics to ascertain the severity of her injuries. Tests included the collection of bloods, radiographs and an ultrasound.

Dr Caryl Knox, uShaka Sea World clinical veterinarian, said, “Her radiographs showed multiple fractures of her cranium, but thankfully, no vital organs were affected. She was given antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, wound care and a name. On the ultrasound, we could clearly see that she had many clutches of eggs which she needs to lay this summer. We called her Delena as it was the closest we could come to a female version of the name of her initial rescuer, Dylan van Deventer.

“Most remarkable is that Delena has tags on both her front flippers and a notch on her carapace which was made within a few hours of her hatching on the beach at Banga Nek approximately 50 years ago. Banga Nek is located within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park just north of Sodwana Bay on the KZN North Coast. We are currently researching information about her particular notch and tags which will give us accurate information about her age and nesting habits. South Africa’s sea turtle monitoring programme, which was initiated in 1963, is one of the longest sea turtle monitoring programmes in the world.

“In spite of her injuries, Delena’s shown enormous strength, resilience and determination from day one. She is making good progress and is able to swim strongly around her recovery pool. We will continue to offer her supportive care to ensure the fracture sites start healing as quickly as possible to avoid infection. We are planning to release her soon so she can lay her eggs on the same beach where she hatched all those years ago,” said Knox.