Coast KZN

26 Feb 2020

Three-flipper turtle rescued off KZN south coast

Thobeka Nzama (Daily News: IOL) Picture: This very large turtle (126 kg) had three flippers and its fourth was nothing more than a stump, which was an old and healed injury. Picture: Mark Olbers and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Durban – A turtle with three flippers was rescued in Margate after being bashed around upside down on the rocks at Lucien Beach.

According to their Facebook page, the KZN Marine Stranding Network was activated to the scene. The network said the lifeguards from Ray Nkonyeni Municipality rescued her and placed her on the beach while the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 20 in Shelly Beach, responded and secured the turtle and the area.

“This very large turtle (126 kg) had three flippers and its fourth was nothing more than a stump, which was an old and healed injury. The animal was found to be lethargic and in moderate condition. It was transported to uShaka Sea World for further health assessments,” the network said.

“In an interesting twist, one of the partners of the Network recognized the turtle as possibly the resident Green turtle from the uMzimkhulu River in Port Shepstone who has been sighted on a regular basis for a number of years.”

However, the network said they would still compare videos and pictures of the resident turtle.  This turtle was rescued days after, North, an injured loggerhead turtle was rescued along the beachfront and admitted to uShaka Sea World. North had undergone surgery to amputate her front left flipper which had become gangrenous due to being wrapped in fishing line. Sadly North did not survive the night after her surgery although her initial recovery post-surgery was good, her condition slowly deteriorated.

In more uplifting news, the first turtle hatchling of the season washed ashore at Battery Beach in Durban on Thursday. The KZN Stranding Network was activated when the eThekwini Lifeguards called for assistance while Durban Metro Search and Rescue attended while uShaka Sea World mobilized to collect the animal.

The network said turtle nesting season runs from October to March, with the egg incubation period being 60 days. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings make their way to the water living on the surface and in the upper centimeters of the water column. At this time they are at the mercy of the currents. Needless to say sometimes they are swept inshore and occasionally we find them on the beaches.

In KZN, hatchling rehabilitation and release rates are very high and successful.