Johannesburg - The determination of a 7-year-old girl and her 5-year-old sister saved a baby Loggerhead turtle, dubbed Rosie, who was on the verge of death in Gordon's Bay, near Cape Town.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said James Campbell, his wife Tarryn, their two children, Kylie and Jade, aged 7 and 5, and granny Tammy found the turtle on Saturday afternoon.
"James told the NSRI that they are staying on a long weekend holiday in Somerset West. After lunch ... they headed to the coast at Gordon’s Bay to play in the rock pools where [his] daughter... found the little turtle perched on rocks and looking barely alive," spokesperson Craig Lambinon said.
"Advice from locals suggested that they seek help at Gordon's Bay harbour but not finding anyone there that could help them, the children, who were by that stage cradling the turtle in their arms and had named it Rosie, were insistent that the little creature would not be abandoned. 'We need to get it to a turtle doctor', they said."
The family then contacted NSRI for advice, who requested that they bring the turtle, who appeared to be unwilling to go back into the cold water, to the Two Oceans Aquarium, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
Rosie was furthest south
The aquarium was overseeing the rehabilitation of baby Loggerhead turtles found washed up along the Cape Coast predominantly in Struisbaai.
The family drove the turtle to the aquarium, where staff were on hand to meet them.
"Rosie was put into the rehabilitation tank along with the 178 other Loggerhead turtles currently in their care and by Sunday morning Two Oceans Aquarium staff confirmed that Rosie was doing well and appearing to be strong and healthy much to the delight of the Campbells," Lambinon said.
He said of all the 179 Loggerheads found along the Cape coast to date, Rosie was the found the furthest south.
The Loggerheads hatched in KwaZulu-Natal and set out to catch the warm water currents which initially head south, before turning back.
It appeared that stormy weather caused the turtles to be swept out of the current.
"Not liking the Cape's colder waters they headed ashore where sadly some died but others were collected along the shore and brought to NSRI Agulhas where rehabilitation efforts began, " Lambinon said.
The turtles were later taken to the aquarium.
"While this is an annual event at around this time of the year it is unusual for so many to come ashore and this year has been described by Two Oceans Aquarium as the most that they have ever had to rehabilitate."
According to the aquarium, when the conditions were favourable, the rehabilitated turtles would be flown back to KwaZulu-Natal.