There has been an increase in the number of baby / juvenile turtles washing up on beaches all along the Southern Cape Coast. Between April and June every year, juvenile loggerhead turtles as well as green turtles wash up on beaches in and around the Western Cape. This year, due to rough seas and strong winds, the strandings have started even earlier and have occurred from as far afield as Knysna and Struisbaai.
It appears that these turtles breed in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area. According to Vernon Gibbs-Halls, Eden District Municipality’s Environmental Specialist: “From what we understand, they swim into the Agulhas currents and drift Southwards. The Agulhas currents then loop heading Northwards again and under normal circumstances the little turtles return to their Kwa-Zulu Natal home naturally in these warmer sea currents; but a strong South Easterly wind and rough sea conditions have resulted in some being swept ashore, they can’t survive in the colder Cape waters and end up beaching along the coastline”.
Sea turtles are temperate water animals and when they are washed up on Western Cape beaches they are often suffering from hypothermia, dehydration and possible infection.
What to do if you spot a stranded turtle:
- Remove the turtle from the beach; do NOT return it to the sea.
- Keep it dry and at room temperature – DO NOT place the turtle in water, neither salt- nor freshwater – Do not try to feed the turtles.
- Place the turtle in a container (empty ice cream tub) with a dry facecloth on the bottom or similar; which has ample air holes for ventilation and breathing.
- Contact Vernon Gibbs-Halls on 072 670 5108 who will arrange that the turtle is transported, as soon as possible to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town or Struisbaai.
- Make a note of exactly where the turtle was found.
For any further information, please contact:
Vernon Gibbs-Halls, contact number 072 670 5108.
Melanie Wilson – Manager: Strategic Services, contact number 044 803 1300 / 082 805 5285.