Turtles, seals heading home after recovering at Bayworld

Turtles, seals heading home after recovering at Bayworld

Guy Rogers    The Herald. © 2017 HeraldLIVE
Bayworld sealed a successful batch of releases with 11 turtles being set free near Bird Island last week.

Marine fish husbandry curator Ruth Wright said they had released eight loggerhead turtles and three green turtles off Bird Island.

The turtles had been brought into Bayworld in various states of distress.

“Some were missing flippers, most likely bitten off by sharks, fish, crabs or birds and were emaciated and severely dehydrated, while others were covered in algae and barnacles,” Wright said.

Green turtles come from the tropical waters of Mozambique, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

They travel widely, however, and are often spotted feeding on seaweed in Algoa Bay.

“The animals came in with a variety of issues, including injuries from entanglement in fishing line, cold-stunning during the high seas and storm conditions experienced during August this year with associated injuries on their shells and flippers, and unable to dive,” Wright said.

The second release of Sub-Antarctic fur seals involved a 60km voyage out to the Agulhas Current, which hugs the continental shelf off the east coast of South Africa.

It was an ideal spot to release Sub-Antarctic fur seals, Bayworld marine biologist Dr Greg Hofmeyr said yesterday.

“The continental shelf starts off narrow in KwaZulu-Natal and continues like that down the Eastern Cape coast north of here before broadening off Port Elizabeth,” he said.

“The consequence is that the Agulhas Current is deflected southwards, which is where the seals need to go.”

The fast pace of the current also helped, he said.

“Previous experience and satellite tagging has shown us that a Sub-Antarctic fur seal released at this point can travel as far as 200km a day,” Hofmeyr said.

But the animals have a long way to go – 2 000km to their homes on Gough or Marion Island.

Anyone wanting to report a stranding can call 071-724-2122.