International Turtle Day is celebrated throughout the world on the 23 May each year in a variety of ways to bring attention to turtles.
Senior Aquarist at uShaka Sea World Malini Pather, seen above with Ula, the female Loggerhead Turtle who has spent the past two years in our rehabilitation centre, is on her way to recovery from her trauma out at sea.
Although Ula has taken longer than most young turtles to fully recover from her experience, the animal health team recently declared her fit for release.
She is now waiting for the right weather conditions and a suitable vessel to transport her to a perfect release site.
All of the five species of turtles found in South African waters are on the endangered species list and threatened by human impact.
Threats include habitat loss and degradation, collection of eggs and meat for consumption, incidental capture in fisheries, climate change and pollution. Litter and the effects of climate change are the biggest man-made threats to turtles along the KZN coastline.
Turtles are particularly susceptible to ocean pollution and often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. When turtles ingest plastic, they can suffer intestinal blockage resulting in malnutrition, reduced growth rates and even death.
Besides the threat of ingestion, plastic and other materials which find their way into the ocean, cause a risk to marine animals becoming entangled in the debris. This could cause drag when swimming and death from drowning or starvation.
Next time you are preparing to head down to the ocean or a river, pause for a moment and pack a refuse bag or two with your swimming gear. Every piece of refuse you collect will help save a turtle's life.