African Aquarium Races to the Rescue of Baby Sea Turtles

May 9, 2024

A turtle conservation center at Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, is used to nursing back to health a few dozen reptiles in need of care. But hundreds of baby sea turtles washed up on Cape Town beaches recently. And the aquarium had to send out a call for help.   

The center sent out a message for volunteers. And a small army of people around the country answered the call. Two Oceans is now nursing back to health roughly 400 of the more than 500 sick reptiles that washed up. It's sending the rest to other aquariums. 

Two Oceans has room for about 150 turtles. It commonly fills up after hatching season. But a fierce storm recently hit the waters around the southernmost point on the African continent. It left the baby turtles washed up on the shoreline.

“What we haven't seen before is over 500 turtles in two weeks, which is what the last little bit of time has brought us,” Talitha Noble-Trull told The Associated Press (AP).  She heads Two Oceans. “My budgeting plans for the year have really gone out the window,” she added.

She gauged that it will cost about $500 per turtle to nurse them back to health. Two Oceans will then release the sea turtles into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean in a few months, she said. 

Workers have ranked each turtle by how injured the reptile is. Some need intense treatments due to malnutrition, disease, or physical harm during the storm. Many of the turtles had eaten bits of plastic before reaching the aquarium. Some of those bits were as big as a fingernail, Noble-Trull told the AP.    

Reflect: Why is it important for humans to protect other species?

GIF of sea turtle hatchling from GIPHY.

According to the article, what happens to the baby sea turtles at Two Oceans Aquarium after they are rescued? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. They are nursed back to health before being released.
b. They are immediately released back into the ocean.
c. They are sent to private collections and zoos.
d. They are used for scientific research to help improve sea turtle life.
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