Coast KZN

05 May 2021

Turtle rescued at La Mercy lagoon turns a corner

Penny Fourier (North Coast Courier) Picture: SAAMBR. Gabby is given a weekly scrub with a betadine solution to control possible infections.

Gabby the green sea turtle is showing signs of recovery after she was rescued by a kite surfer and National Sea Rescue Institute Ballito (NSRI) at La Mercy lagoon last month. The green turtle appeared to be in difficulty, struggling to maintain itself and being thrown around in the waves, and was brought safely to the shore by a kite surfer and handed to the NSRI crew. According to NSRI Ballito duty coxswain, Brendon Power the turtle was safely taken to uShaka Marine World, where it was placed in the care of a vet.

Last Friday South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) spokesperson, Ann Kunz reported that Gabby, who was named so by the team for her tenacity, had finally shown improvement in her condition.

“Up until this point she had not moved much or lifted her head since her arrival on April 19. Although she spends most of her day resting, she is a lot more alert and is showing an interest in food with a preference for sea lettuce. We are still very guarded about her prognosis but these are all positive signs for recovery.”

When Gabby was brought in, most of her carapace was covered with an excessive amount of barnacles, many deeply embedded, causing discomfort. She was also battling a severe infection – radiographs taken suggested possible pneumonia. Kunz said Gabby appeared to have been floating at sea for about 2 months.

Gabby is administered rehydration. Photo: SAAMBR.

She was so weak, the adult turtle, estimated to be between 8 and 10 years old, was barely able to move or lift her head. The fresh-water bath she was placed in shortly after arrival managed to rid her of most of the barnacles which were even in her nostrils and under her nails.

Under his care veterinarian, Dr François Lampen administered intravenous fluids to stabilise her, and antibiotics to help with infection.

“She is receiving a weekly scrub with a betadine solution to help control any possible infections which could result from the removal of the barnacles. Gabby is looking stronger each day and is receiving lots of TLC from the rehabilitation team. She, like the many green turtles before her, enjoys a back scratch and could be seen earlier today doing a little ‘jig’ every time one of her caretakers scratched her carapace.”

The team will continue to monitor her closely over the coming weeks with the hope of a full recovery.