Bob the turtle recovers after pooping out plastic balloons

2016-03-11 14:48
Bob the turtle. (Two Oceans Aquarium)

Bob the turtle. (Two Oceans Aquarium)

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Cape Town – A green turtle is finally paddling its way to recovery almost one and half years after he was discovered injured on a beach in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, just outside of Cape Town in November 2014.

The sub-adult green turtle was weak, dehydrated and had two fractures on his bottom shell when he was first found by Lieze Swart of the Department of Environmental Affairs (Oceans and Coasts).

The injured reptile was subsequently brought to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town which also takes in injured marine animals to nurse back to health and release back into the ocean.

The turtle was named Bob due to its tendency to “bob” around the tank. He joined two other green turtles already in the rehabilitation programme.

“It was very tiring in the beginning,” recalled Kevin Spiby, an aquarist at the Two Oceans Aquarium, “But as he started to heal, it was very nice to see that all our hard work had paid off.”

He added that a turtle’s healing and recovery process was very slow.

Bob was first examined, bandaged with waterproof duct tape and moved to a freshwater pool to swim and rehydrate. Although the fracture site was cleaned and changed daily, it became infected and the turtle lost sight in both eyes. He also showed signs of neurological damage due to the infection.

“After a long course of antibiotics, he showed signs of progress, with full sight returning to one eye and partial sight to the other eye,” said Spiby.

Almost three months after Bob was brought to the aquarium, a pile of plastic was discovered in his faeces, including pieces of balloons, a ribbon, plastic and black bags.

“The amount of plastic that he passed was very scary. Bob was very lucky that this all passed through without causing any issues. It could have very easily caused a blockage or perforated the gut.”

“All these bits of plastic were considered as food by Bob,” explained Spiby, “this shows us how susceptible turtles and other marine life are to plastic pollution.”

Bob is currently still in rehabilitation and will be released once he has recovered fully.

Watch Bob's recovery journey here:

Read more on:    cape town  |  pollution  |  marine life

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