Behind the scenes of the exhibits you have come to know and love, the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa actively rescues, rehabilitates and releases stranded and distressed sea turtles as part of our broader conservation mission. With the support of an extensive network of organisations and volunteers along the Western Cape's coast, and many incredible donors, hundreds of endangered sea turtles – loggerheads, hawksbills, greens – have been saved, reared to full strength and released back into the wild.
During the winter months, turtles are swept down from the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal (where they hatch) in the mighty Agulhas Current and are washed ashore by stormy seas. They are often extremely compromised little fighters and very weak due to dehydration and exposure to cold water.
We rescue and rehabilitate these turtles in preparation for their release back into the warm ocean. The turtles range in size from 20g up to 80kg. Rehabilitation can last more than a year, depending on the needs of each individual, as some are not only suffering from hypothermia but are also injured and require treatment.
But all of this medical treatment and dedicated TLC does not come for free. Hospitals – whether for ill children or ill baby turtles – need lots of resources to bring hope and recovery to those who need it most. It requires skilled staff, medicine, specialised tools, and a lot of grit and determination to do what we do.
It costs R27 (about US$2) a day to care for a hatchling
Although tiny, the costs of raising a hatchling add up. On average, it costs R27 (about US$2) a day to care for one of these tiny animals, but an individual's care can vary greatly. Here's what R27 a day buys for a hatchling:
- Two meals a day – pilchard, white mussel and a gel food enriched with spirulina and vitamins A, B, C, E and calcium. Sometimes this is all mixed into a delicious seafood smoothie with prawn, hake, squid and gelatine!
- Ongoing medical care – a range of medication is used to treat the variety of ailments afflicting these weakened arrivals. The hatchlings receive a full work-up including X-rays, blood tests and specialist veterinary consultations.
- Some turtles even go to human hospitals to get MRI and CT scans!
- Full-time staff and volunteer care
- Sundries - maintenance of the quarantine and turtle rehabilitation facilities.
It would mean the world to us if you were to consider making a contribution – big or small – to our life-giving work. In this way, you will be part of a wave of optimism and hope.
All donations are tax deductible under section 18a.