A loggerhead turtle hatchling was found dehydrated and lifeless at Kidds Beach last month by a visitor to the coast Brendan Cole. Chasing off seagulls he retrieved the limp reptile and called the East London Museum. Unfortunately, the hatchling could not be delivered to the aquarium that day and had to be nursed in warm sea water overnight at the Jansen home in Kidds Beach.
Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Gillnets and longlines cause many loggerhead deaths (trapped animals drown from entanglement). Loggerhead turtles nest along the northern beaches of KwaZulu-Natal and the museum has recent records of re-newed breeding along our coast. The latter records are encouraging and it is hoped that more nesting sites will be documented in the future. South Africa has the longest turtle monitoring programme in the world.
The average life span is more than 50 years and they can grow up to 90 cm in size, weighing well over 115 kilograms. Being carnivorous they feed on bottom dwelling molluscs, crabs, sea urchins and sponges.
The hatchling was delivered to the aquarium the following day, showing more signs of life and a willingness to live (considering the seagulls had attempted to nibble away at his front left flipper). Named Rambo for his fighting spirit he slowly started to feed and today swims furiously in the aquarium nursery waiting for his next meal.