CAPE TOWN - Forty- four rehabilitated sea turtles have a new lease on life after they were released back into the ocean by the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation sea turtle rehabilitation team about 30 nautical miles south of Hout Bay.
The turtles were all rehabilitated at the Two Oceans Aquarium over the last couple of months after being found stranded on Western Cape beaches.
The group that was released on Monday morning included Geri, the three-flippered green sea turtle that has been recovering in the I&J Ocean Exhibit for the last couple of weeks, Echo, a juvenile hawksbill turtle that was found washed up and half-buried on the beach at Struisbaai last year and 40 post-hatchling loggerhead turtles.
“After months of rehabilitation, the turtles were cleared for release by the vet, with some tagged with satellite tags to enable the animals to be tracked, and others tagged with microchips, similar to those used for house pets.” the Foundation said.
On Monday morning, all the turtles were packed into travel crates, transported to Hout Bay harbour and loaded onto two boats.
The team and crew headed out about 30 nautical miles in order for them to encounter the warmer currents that can be found south of Cape Town during the summer months. Once these temperate waters were reached, the turtles were released to the great joy and jubilation of all on board.
“The release coincides with the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean pushing in closer to the coast off of Hout Bay during peak summer. By releasing the turtles in this area, they are able to join the warmer current again and continue with their life at sea,” the Foundation said.
Although 44 turtles were released, a number of others remain in the rehabilitation programme. These include three post-hatchling loggerhead turtles, three juvenile loggerhead turtles, Nobomvu (sub-adult loggerhead turtle), three sub-adult loggerhead turtles, and Bob, a green turtle that has been at the Aquarium since 2014, and is still undergoing rehabilitation following severe illness and the ingestion of plastic.
To support the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation work in conservation, education and research visit www.aquariumfoundation.org.za.