Rescue Advice Turtles
What you should know :
- Turtles breed on the east coast of South Africa in the warmer temperate waters of KZN and Mozambique. Once they hatch, the hatchlings make their way quickly to the sea. Male Turtles will never return to shore in their lifetime. Female Turtles will only return to shore to where they hatched, as adults in order to lay eggs. Hatchlings will never come to shore.
- Therefore if an adult turtle or hatchling comes ashore anywhere else in South Africa, it is ill and should not be pushed back into the water.
- Turtles eat jellyfish and sometimes they can mistakedly eat plastic floating in the ocean. This could be a reason why they come to shore and typically they would have a lot of barnacles on them showing that they are spending a lot of time on the surface of the ocean.
- Barnacles should never be forcefully removed from the shell because this will injure the scutes of the turtle.
- Turtles can also suffer from cold shocking where they are unable to adjust their metabolism to a sudden radical drop in ocean water temperature or very cold pockets of water during winter. In this instance, they suffer from hyperthermia and come to shore to preserve energy in order to keep their vital organs functioning.
- Turtles can also get bacterial infections or suffer from diseases or injuries which force them ashore.
If you find a turtle hatchling on the beach, locate a small plastic container like a 2litre Ice-cream container. Put a bit of wet beachsand at the bottom, place the turtle on the sand and get it to your nearest marine Rehabilitation Centre, Nature Authorities or Aquarium for treatment. Never transport it in water. Never just put it back in the sea in the hope it will be ok.
If you find an adult turtle on the beach in South Africa (excluding Northern KZN & Mozambique), contact your nearest Nature Authorities or Aquarium, or marine Rehabilitation Centre. never put it back in the water in the hope it will be ok. If you are going to transport it for rehabilitation, pick it up and place it on something firm. Do not turn it upside down. Do not scrape any barnacles or anything off the scutes. Make sure that you do not drop it when it is picked up. It should not be transported in water and it should be kept at room temperature until it is ascertained what is wrong with it.