Pemba the Turtle reaches Elandsbaai

Published May 23, 2018


Durban- Pemba, the Olive Ridley Turtle, is swimming along comfortably in the Atlantic Ocean. On Monday Pemba was 50km West of Elandsbaai.

Pemba is the first Olive Ridley turtle to be satellite tagged in South Africa. The tracking device has revealed some interesting statistics on Pemba`s movements. 

Maryke Musson, a curator at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, explained that Pemba has been exploring the deep sea near Cape Town.  The team is anxious to see which direction she will be heading to next.  

Pemba has travelled over 4 626 km since her release in Mabibi at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, on the KwaZulu Natal north coast on 8 March 2018.  The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) is tracking her movements for the next 14 to 24 months. 

There are Olive Ridley nesting sites along West Africa (Angola, Gabon), Brazil in South America, Mexico and California along the West Coast of America, and around Malaysia, Indonesia and India. There are also minor nesting beaches along Australia. 

According to SAAMBR website, Pemba was found floating in Table Bay Harbour in December 2014. She was admitted to the Two Oceans Aquarium turtle rehabilitation and release programme. 

Initial examination showed a fracture on the side of her carapace (shell), presumably from a boat propeller strike. Surgery was performed and the fracture was wired together. 

The fracture healed within a couple of months. Pemba was under constant veterinary supervision and was treated with antibiotics for the fracture to her shell as well as a suspected lung tear. Numerous attempts at removing large volumes of air from the turtle’s coelomic cavity proved unsuccessful.

The trapped air caused her to be positively buoyant and she could therefore not dive down as a healthy turtle would to find food.

Treatment continued at the Two Oceans Aquarium until September 2016, when the decision was made to move Pemba to uShaka Sea World in Durban for further treatment and future release. Once Pemba had regained her ability to dive, there was no looking back and the team began to plan her release.

Daily News

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