State of the art Turtle Conservation Centre by 2026 at V&A Waterfront

Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront is planning to build a multi-million rand turtle rehabilitation centre to care for rescued turtles along the country’s coastline. Picture:Ian Landsberg

Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront is planning to build a multi-million rand turtle rehabilitation centre to care for rescued turtles along the country’s coastline. Picture:Ian Landsberg

Published Apr 13, 2024


Cape Town - Cape Town's V&A Waterfront's CEO, David Green announced this week that they would be constructing South Africa's first world-class Turtle Conservation Centre as it continues with its 2026 upgrade and expansion plans.

The executive management of the Two Oceans Aquarium confirmed yesterday they would have to raise R30-50 million for the internal operations and internal infrastructure and technology by the year 2026.

What makes the current turtle conservation sanctuary unique at the Two Oceans Aquarium is that four out of five of the turtle species there are found along our coastline, many of them facing extinction.

Just this week, 304 turtles were rescued following storms and black south-easter winds and more than 200 are currently in intensive care and quarantined at the aquarium's turtle centre. One such turtle is a Hawkbill, aged between three to six years old and an endangered species.

A team of vets and medical experts care for the turtles in a sanctuary where no humans from outside are allowed, only the staff, where they are quarantined and nurtured until they can be released back into the ocean.

They can produce 100s to 1000s of hatchings per season and are vital to our ecosystem and vulnerable to pollution such as plastic.

The team at the conservation centre told the media the timing could not have been more perfect, showcasing the dire need to preserve and conserve the species.

Ann Lamont, the Executive Chairperson of the Two Ocean’s Aquarium Foundation said they were excited at the prospects of a first of its kind conservatory.

“There has been amazing work done here over the past 20 years with over 1000 turtles being saved and released,” said Lamont.

“More and more there has been an increase in extreme weather events and plastic pollution, driving the need for turtle conservation.

“Our number of turtles being brought into the centre are increasing. We do need the additional space and a place which will be open to the public.

“The V&A Waterfront has announced a R20bn expansion plan and it is still in the process of public participation.

“The CEO of the V&A Waterfront made an announcement of the construction of the Turtle Conservation Centre.

“It will form part of phase one of the plans which is very exciting for us. It will be a 2000 m2 facility and have state of the art scientific technology and be world class.

“It will be a training centre and rehabilitation centre and a support system for other centres along the continent. It will be fair to say it will be the first of its kind on the African continent. A multidisciplinary education centre, research, music, arts and social sciences will form part of it.”

“This can be a sanctuary for turtles and humans, a space of creativity.”

Lamont said the conservation centre would still be part of the aquarium but would be open to the public and be located near the Table Bay Hotel, Granger Bay precinct and would have amenities such as a restaurant and shops.

Lamot explained they would be reaching out to corporates and businesses and philanthropists and funders to cough up the money for their multi million rand vision.

“We will be looking at funding, the life support centre, the learning centre, the technology, what must go into the centre, we need to focus on that funding, reaching out to corporates, business sector to philanthropists,” she said.

“We are looking at something between R30 to R50 million for it to really be state of the art, if we have commitment from large corporate and philanthropic organisations because there is a lot of endangered species that washes up here.”

Talitha Nobel-Trull, conservation manager at the Two Oceans Aquarium, said they would be working closely with architects to focus on the strategic design and had done their research globally and locally to see if there was any facility of its kind in existence in Africa.

She took the media on a tour of the current facility at the aquarium, which showcased large tanks, fish tanks and a quarantine facility where the rescued turtles are protected and treated.

“We have four out of the five turtle species that visit our coastline,” she said.

“We have more than 1 500 people who are out looking for these turtles from satellites and divers.

“A number of turtles have been stranded due to the weather conditions, and currents are increasing each day and week.”

Just this week, 80 loggerhead hatchlings which had washed up along the coast were taken in for intensive care, and make up part of the 304 at the facility.