Loggerhead turtles are found in South African waters, where they mate and lay eggs along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline. Each year, hundreds of hatchlings make their way down the coast, cruising in the warm Agulhas. Some get lost, or pushed onto shore due to stormy weather. The lucky ones are found by members of the public and brought to our rehabilitation centre. Our hatchling season starts late March each year, when the first little turtles are found.
Most of them suffer from hypothermia, exhaustion and dehydration. Some have more serious health issues, such as infections and gut blockages. Most have swallowed microplastic. The hatchlings arrive with an average weight of around 60g, but by the time of release can wear up to 1kg.
Each loggerhead hatchling costs around R4 600 to rehabilitate. This cost includes food, medication, and medical procedures, such as x-rays and CT scans.
We have a 85% release rate for our turtle rehab patients, which we are very proud of. In the ocean, only one or two out of every 1000 turtle hatchlings survive into adulthood. Loggerhead turtles are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Our rehabilitation programme ensures that these young animals have a fighting chance to grow into adulthood and to continue the growth of their population.