Photo Credit: Tonie Carnie via source.
By: Laura O’Brien
An Olive Ridley turtle named Pemba completed a long and difficult road to recovery this year. She was floating in Table Bay Harbor when a boat-tour operator found her with terrible injuries to her body and shell. Her treatment began in Two Oceans Aquarium’s turtle rehabilitation and release program, where they quickly discovered a fracture on her shell that was likely caused by a boat propellor strike. Her shell was mended with surgery that secured the fracture with wire, but internal injuries continued to complicate her condition. Air continued to gather in Pemba’s coelomic cavity due to a lung tear. Due to the air that kept collecting in her body, Pemba could not dive below water, which would be a death sentence for a turtle in the wild. The aquarium staff had to make sure that Pemba’s injuries were healed, and that should could dive to catch food, before releasing her. After Two Oceans Aquarium made multiple unsuccessful attempts to remove the excess air, non-profit called the Bateleurs sent a private plane to take Pemba to uShaka Sea World in September 2016.
After three long years of recovery at the aquariums, Pemba finally regained enough strength to dive for food. Her caregivers released her back into the ocean on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, in a marine sanctuary. She is carrying a tracker that researchers hope will help us learn more about Olive Ridley sea turtles. Scientists have already learned quite a bit from her migratory pattern since she was released in March.