Baby turtles washed up in Cape recovering at uShaka

2014-11-12 00:00

FOURTEEN baby Loggerhead turtles who washed up on Cape Town beaches will be kept at ­uShaka Marine World until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

uShaka Marine World spokesperson Ann Kunz said the turtles, who are about the size of an average hand, had washed up on the Cape beaches after being caught in the wrong current.

“They were brought to ­uShaka because they are not naturally found in the cold Cape waters,” she said.

“They belong in the warm waters off KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique.”

Kunz said that they plan on releasing the turtles, that are between nine months and two years old, back into the ocean when they reach the correct ages.

“We will in all likelihood release them approximately 10 nautical miles off one of the KZN beaches,” she said.

“These young turtles are naturally found in warm tropical waters and are small and vulnerable now, but will grow to be strong and feisty. They are beautiful and full of energy.

“The bigger they are, the better chance they have at escaping predators,” she said.

“The smaller the turtle, the easier it is to fit into a foraging bird’s beak or between the teeth of a number of their predators and there is the danger of them mistaking plastic for jellyfish and eating it.”

For now Kunz said that the turtles would be kept at uShaka’s quarantine facility while they undergo screening.

“Their diet is made up predominantly of crabs, mollusks and sea urchins.

However, while they are floating on the surface they are opportunistic feeders and feed mainly on hydrozoans, jellies and Portuguese Man-O-War.”

“If readers find a turtle on a beach in KZN, whatever its size, they can call uShaka Sea World at 031 328 8222 and if they are in the Cape they can contact the Two Oceans Aquarium,” she said.

“Young turtles are found floating on the ocean’s surface for the first two years of their lives far out at sea.

“Turtles only return to the beach to lay eggs so if you find a turtle on the beach regardless of what size, call us,” she urged.

• raisa.soodyal@witness.co.za

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