Friday, July 19, 2024

Over 500 Baby Sea Turtles Rescued After Being Washed Ashore

A South African aquarium is full to the brim after over 500 baby sea turtles washed up ashore following a powerful storm.

Most of the tiny turtles are endangered loggerheads that are normally found in U.S. coastal waters. Instead of cruising the ocean, however, most of the animals will be spending the first months of their lives at the Turtle Conservation Center in Cape Town, which operates out of the Two Oceans Aquarium.

cape town turtles
The baby Loggerhead turtles are currently being cared for at Cape Town’s Turtle Conservation Center, where they will stay until they are ready to be re-released back into the ocean

The aquarium is currently rehabilitating 400 out of the 530 injured and sick turtles that were rescued. The rest of them will be sent to two other aquariums in the area.

In the wild, baby turtles have to survive on their own the moment they’re born. As soon as they hatch, they must make their way into the water.

In the case of loggerhead turtles, they normally hatch on the northeast coast of South Africa. The baby turtles that were washed onto beaches, however, were likely sucked in by a warm current that carried them to the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Talitha Noble-Trull, who leads the Turtle Conservation Center, it’s a relatively common phenomenon.

cape town storm
Earlier this month, Cape Town was hit by a severe storm that sent the baby turtles stuck on the shore

What’s abnormal, however, is the severe storm that struck Cape Town earlier this month. Not only did it damage the area but it also left hundreds of vulnerable turtles on the shore.

Typically, the Turtle Conservation Center receives up to 100 stranded baby turtles witin three months after the hatching season. The fact that they received more than 500 animals in two weeks, is unheard of. To make matters worse, the center only has a capacity of 150 turtles and have already drained through their funds.

Noble-Trull estimated that it will cost $500 for each turtle to regain their strength before they can be released back into the ocean.

loggerhead turtle
Each turtle is given a number that is written on their shell and is triaged based on the severity of their injuries

In addition to the full-time staff at the aquarium, the center has also brought in a small group of volunteers to help care for the animals.

Each turtle is identified by a number that is written on their shell, and are ranked based on how sick they are.

Noble-Trull also noted that many of the baby turtles had pieces of plastic inside their bodies, which exited their systems once they arrived at the tanks in the aquarium.

Since turtles spend the majority of their lives in the ocean (except for when they’re born on the beach) they’re considered ‘ocean indicators’, meaning they can be used to determine the amount of plastic pollution in the waters.

Given the amount of plastic that exited their systems, it’s clear that the waters are currently not a safe place for the turtles. It’s also given conservationists insight on the impact of extreme weather and climate change.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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