Adopt a tiny turtle: help a rescue return to the sea

Posted by Ilhaam Hoosain on 27 June 2022

The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is calling for the public to adopt a sea turtle hatchling and be part of the rehabilitation process.

The campaign would like members of the public and all types of organisations to ‘adopt’ a turtle for R6000. This money will go to covering the rehabilitation process and the maintenance of each sea turtle until it is healthy enough to be released. There are currently 13 turtles up for adoption, which you can choose from here.

‘We are very excited to be launching our 2022 hatchling adoptions. Looking after each individual little hatchling takes an incredible amount of care and costs a lot of money – approximately R8 000 per individual! We are putting the hatchlings up for adoption at R6 000 to allow members of the public, communities, school groups, friends, etc. to join forces to adopt one of these babies,’ says the aquarium’s conservation coordinator Talitha Noble.

There are seven different sea turtle species – leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green, olive ridley, and hawksbill. These turtles are found in every ocean except the icy waters of the Arctic and Antarctic. The seventh species, the flatback turtle, is only found on Australia’s shores.

Six of the seven turtle species are classified as threatened, endangered or critically endangered. This is due to ongoing plastic pollution, hunting, bycatch in the fishing industry and climate change to name a few.

Without human intervention, these animals could be lost forever. When you adopt a sea turtle you will have the opportunity to name the young one and you will receive an adoption certificate. After adoption, you will be updated with news about your little one’s progress at the aquarium.

‘By adopting a turtle and receiving the certificate, updates and so forth, one is reminded that each of these little turtle lives’ is precious and incredibly meaningful. Not only that, but for the Aquarium Foundation, each adopted turtle also helps us to continue rehabilitating sea turtles,’ says Noble.

The rehabilitation journey for KwaZulu-Natal turtles

The northern beaches of KwaZulu-Natal host nesting endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles every year. Citizens save hatchlings by contacting the Turtle Rescue Network which give the turtles over to the Two Oceans Aquarium. The hatchlings sometimes become hypothermic and dehydrated because they are forced from the warm Agulhas current to the cold coastline of the Western Cape by rough seas, requiring intervention.

Each rehab process may include X-rays, MRI scans, physiotherapy, targeted medication and specialised operations. Their diet is an important factor for achieving a successful recovery before release. The process can take up to a year and they are currently taking care of 70 hatchlings. The team of staff and volunteers are dedicated and want to see every turtle thrive in the open waters.

Female sea turtles lay their eggs on shore, digging a hole in the sand then depositing their eggs for incubation of about 60 days. When they hatch, natural light guides the hatchlings to the ocean for a brand new beginning, but they face being snatched up by predators like seagulls and crabs.

‘Our dedicated team works very hard to ensure that each turtle is given the absolute best care possible. We hope that even more individuals, groups, and companies will be able to contribute to our sea turtle adoption programme this year,’ said Noble.


What to do if you find a stranded sea turtle

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