Coast KZN

24 Apr 2024

uShaka welcomes 72 turtle hatchlings

(Berea Mail) Picture: Submitted. Loggerhead Turtle number 171.

The uShaka Sea World Turtle Rehabilitation team recently took in 72 Loggerhead hatchlings and will be caring for them until they’re healthy enough for release.

“On the afternoon of April 15, the uShaka Sea World Turtle Rehabilitation team admitted 72 Loggerhead Turtle hatchlings. These tiny turtles were part of a total of 304 hatchlings admitted into the care of staff at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation after being found stranded on various Cape beaches following the stormy weather conditions experienced,” said Ann Kunz from the South African Association for Marine Biological Research.

As the Two Oceans Turtle Rehabilitation Facility was at capacity, they reached out to uShaka Sea World to admit and care for 72 of the 304 little hatchlings.

“Getting ready to receive such a large number of turtle hatchlings all at once on such short notice was no easy feat. Nineteen appropriately sized pools needed to be prepared, some of the stronger patients had to be relocated to create space, and bespoke heaters and appropriate lighting needed to be sourced and put in place while at the same time caring for the other animals in quarantine,” said Kunz.

After being given a health clearance to fly, the Two Oceans Aquarium staff carefully and safely placed the 72 hatchlings into specially padded holding containers before they were loaded onto an aeroplane heading for Durban.

“Upon arrival at uShaka Sea World, each turtle was evaluated by the resident veterinarian and members of the Turtle Rehabilitation Team before being numbered and placed into holding pools. The evaluation included a body condition score, hydration status checks and buoyancy tests to make sure the turtles were able to swim,” said Kunz.

uShaka Sea World Quarantine Aquarist Kerry Lavender evaluating hatchling number 89. Photo: Submitted
“The hatchlings have been with us for five days now, and we are happy to report that although it is still very early in their rehabilitation journey, a number of them are already looking much stronger. At this stage, it is still too early to say when they will be healthy enough for release,” said Malini Pather, uShaka Sea World Lead Aquarist and Turtle Rehabilitation Specialist.