Coast KZN

25 Mar 2017

Rare green turtle stranded on Scottburgh beach swims free

Judi Davis (South Coast Herald) Picture: Aquarist Lindani Khwela from uShaka Sea World releases Scotty the turtle.


Green turtles are found in tropical oceans around the world.

Aquarist Lindani Khwela from uShaka Sea World recently had the honour of setting free Scotty, a young female green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and a rare visitor from tropical waters who managed to get herself stranded on Scottburgh beach in October last year.

Lindani released Scotty into the sea near Sodwana Bay, which is part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. Named after the beach where she was found, Scotty was brought into uShaka Sea World by an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officer, who was contacted by Crocworld Conservation Centre after the person who had found her on the beach had tried to sell her to the conservation centre.

When she arrived at uShaka Sea World, Scotty was severely dehydrated and was in such a pitiful condition she was unable to lift her head or move on her own. The animal care staff immediately administered fluids and antibiotics and left her to rest quietly after what must have been a harrowing journey.
Thankfully, after a few weeks she started to improve and move about on her own. She also started to eat the seaweed which was offered to her. Although she remained buoyant and initially struggled to dive, her progress was so remarkable carers decided to transfer her to a larger pool where she could eventually master the art of diving. Over the next two months she recovered completely and arrangements were made for her release.

When Lindani was chosen to release her, he said he felt privileged to be part of the operation.

“Although releasing Scotty took no more than a moment, it was a moment I will never forget. Being part of the team that had nursed her back to health for five months, to watch her dive beneath the waves and confidently navigate her way through the rock pools was priceless,” he said.

Even though green turtles do not normally nest along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline they are naturally found in inshore areas of tropical oceans throughout the world where they feed exclusively on sea grasses and algae. As a mature female, Scotty will in all likelihood nest on the same Indian Ocean Island beach on which she hatched.

The uShaka team wishes her a lifetime of wonderful ocean adventures.