As cute they are, these baby Loggerhead turtles have quite a story to tell.
Loggerhead turtles breed in the waters off KwaZulu-Natal and drift along the warm Benguela current (that’s the warm one that runs down the east coast of South Africa).
But every year, a few baby turtles are found washed up on Western Cape beaches like Fish Hoek, Muizenberg, Gansbaai, Arniston and Knysna. Marine biologists believe storms cause them to drift into colder waters, where they become hypothermic, rendering them slow.
This year, there was an unusually high spike in the number of turtles found on our coastline. Over 60 washed up on Struisbaai beach alone during the Easter weekend. A total of 185 of these adorable little critters were taken in by the Two Oceans Aquarium to be rehabilitated.
Last Thursday, 74 were taken back to KwaZulu-Natal.
Most of the turtles are dehydrated by the time they arrive at the aquarium, and each one receives a special fresh water bath to get rid of the algae that they accumulate in the cold water.
After bath time, they are started on a special gelatine diet of mussels, shrimp and fish, and tend to grow very quickly due to being fed so well.
What is saddening to know is that a lot of plastic bags, balloons and other bits of plastic are usually removed from the baby turtles too. That’s on us.
If you come across a washed-up turtle, keep it dry and make sure it has enough air, then report it immediately to the Two Oceans Aquarium on +27 21 418 3823.