Durban — A large loggerhead turtle with multiple injuries to its head was admitted into the care of uShaka Sea World Turtle Rehabilitation staff.
The turtle was admitted while families and friends across the world were preparing for New Year’s Eve festivities.
South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr) spokesperson Ann Kunz said the turtle, now named Delena, was the closest they could come to a female version of the name of her initial rescuer, Dylan van Deventer.
“She had suffered multiple injuries to her head and clearly needed medical attention, so the kind and caring staff from iSimangaliso Wetland Park made the three-hour journey from Bhanga Nek to uShaka Sea World,” Kunz said.
Bhanga Nek is located within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park just north of Sodwana Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.
Kunz said that her injuries aside, Delena appeared to be in good condition and the decision was made to perform immediate diagnostics to ascertain the severity of her injuries.
“Tests included the collection of blood, radiographs and an ultrasound. Her radiographs showed multiple fractures of her cranium, but thankfully, no vital organs were affected. She was given antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, wound care and a name. On the ultrasound, we could clearly see that she had many clutches of eggs which she needs to lay this summer,” Kunz explained.
She said that Delena had tags on both of her front flippers and a notch on her carapace which was made within a few hours of her hatching on the beach at Bhanga Nek about 50 years ago.
“We are currently researching information about her particular notch and tags which will give us accurate information about her age and nesting habits. South Africa’s sea turtle monitoring programme which was initiated in 1963 is one of the longest sea turtle monitoring programmes in the world,” Kunz said.
uShaka Sea World clinical vet Dr Caryl Knox said: “In spite of her injuries, Delena’s shown enormous strength, resilience and determination from day one. She is making good progress and is able to swim strongly around her recovery pool. We will continue to offer her supportive care to ensure the fracture sites start healing as quickly as possible to avoid infection. We are planning to release her soon so that she can lay her eggs on the same beach where she hatched all those years ago.”
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