This month we focus on our turtle project in South Africa. This project supports our Turtle conservation across Africa, Asia and Latin America but since COVID we have been very busy in South Africa and your donations have been working hard to save the lives of these special creatures.
Loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles are the most common to nest along the northern Kwa-Zulu Natal African coast during summer months, and thousands of turtle hatchlings enter the warm and very fast flowing Agulhas current during January and February. Some of these hatchlings wash up on beaches in the Western Cape, usually very weak, dehydrated and very cold. These baby turtles require tender loving care and often medical intervention, to save their lives, and that is exactly what we do at the rehabilitation facility, our turtle hospital and we are fast approaching this season but funding is extremely low due to funders diverting funds due to COVID-19. Our project team ensures transport of these little patients to our hospital in Cape Town, and after a full medical assessment we initiate appropriate treatments. We often see hatchlings with physical injuries such as partial amputations of their flippers, plastic ingestion, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and hypothermia.
The hatchlings usually stay with us until after winter, so they have enough time to heal and grow a lot bigger and stronger before release, when it is summer again and the water is nice and warm. Releasing healthy rehabilitated turtles back into the ocean is one of the most rewarding experiences ever but looking after them for this long period of time comes at a cost and we are purely funded by donations like yours.
We also get subadult and adult sea turtles washing up on our shore. These turtles usually suffer from extensive external physical injuries such as boat strikes or from ghost fishing gear, or they suffer from plastic ingestion. We have had Loggerhead, Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill subadult and adult turtles arrive at our turtle hospital and your donations allow us to help rehabilitate them and track them as they have re-entered the wild.
These adults usually require much more intensive care, from MRI’s to drydocking to surgeries and often spend months with us. We have been satellite tagging most of the larger turtles and can confidently say that they adapt back to life in the ocean incredibly well. Following their post-rehabilitation journeys contributes to a global database of turtle movement in the ocean. Over the last decade we have successfully rehabilitated and released more than 600 endangered sea turtles.
A core function of this project is to create awareness around the threats to sea turtles worldwide and inspiring communities to care and contribute to saving sea turtles by reducing the use of single-use plastics and participating in beach cleans and this is where our Emergency Appeal: Tackling a Plastic Ocean project links to this one.
Out turtle patients and released turtles have become ambassadors for the environment bringing about positive social change to save the ocean and the planet.
All your donations will go towards the cost of sea turtle rescues, rehabilitation and medical treatments, creating awareness and turtle releases. Total turtle rescue costs per annum: US$ 60 000 and you help us survive!
Did you know that only about one to two out of every 1000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to maturity. We continue to improve on our treatment protocols and have achieved an incredible 80% release rate. Please help us continue to save these turtles.
Please take a look at our Saving Turtles infographic.
Thank you for all your support, fundraisers and donations,
Saving Turtle Info-graphic