Astronomy Geometry

Many people have been in touch to ask why exactly there is an eclipse this evening. It’s really not too complicated and I’m happy to explain it to you.

‘Cos I can do Science, me.

Simply, a turtle lunar eclipse is when a really big turtle moves between the sun and the moon and casts its shadow across the lunar surface:

You can recreate this at home on a smaller scale by using a torch as the sun, a ping pong ball as the moon and a cockroach as the turtle.

It’s a very effective demonstration.

Goodbye Yoshi

Last Saturday morning, we headed down to the 2 Oceans Aquarium for an exclusive members only event to say goodbye to The Queen Of The Aquarium.

After more than 20 years wowing visitors to the Aquarium since arriving in Cape Town as by catch on a Japanese trawler, Yoshi the Loggerhead Turtle is about to be released. She’s grown from the size of a dinner plate when she arrived to a 187kg behemoth today. She’s 25 years old now and ready to go and see the big wide world, meet a handsome Mr Turtle and hopefully contribute to the numbers of Loggerhead Turtles worldwide. She’ll be satellite tracked for up to 3 years, so we’ll still know where she is and what she’s up to for a while yet.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived was that the training that the aquarium guys have been doing to build Yoshi up for her big day has definitely had an effect. Her behaviour was very different from usual: she was very active, very busy. Usually, when we’re there, she’s dozing like a beagle in her favourite corner. Not today.

The kids had a great time making Yoshi souvenirs at the craft tables before Communications & Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart and Turtle Conservation Coordinator Talitha Noble gave us a great presentation all about turtles and Yoshi’s time at the aquarium, and then there was a pretty decent breakfast as well.

We had a great time.

I was waiting for tears as we left – I’d even brought tissues in preparation – but no-one seemed very sad to see us go Scoop was remarkably stoic and we made it out with no huge issues.

Obviously, we’ll miss Yoshi, but she’s definitely off to a better place (no, not like that). For all that she has been a great ambassador for the Aquarium and for turtlekind, Yoshi’s true home is the ocean.

Godspeed, Yoshi!

Some few photos here.

Aquarium weekend completed

Pretty much immediately after getting home from the sneak peek into the new bit of the aquarium, I headed down to Agulhas for a functional, pre-winter maintenance visit on the cottage. Truth be told, there wasn’t a lot that needed to be done, just really checking up on things. Still, it needed doing.

Before I headed back to Cape Town on Sunday morning, I took a wander along the beach, getting some fresh air in an effort to clear out my still-thick sinuses. I saw birdlife and a fisherman. I took some photos.

It was while I was ‘togging a couple of African Black Oystercatchers at Piet se Punt that I noticed the little fellow stuck upside down in the rocks by my feet. He was flapping feebly. But this was no bird, it was a loggerhead turtle hatchling. Picking him up, I immediately recalled that “a good throw back in” is not the answer. No, the advice should you find a little turtlet [is this right? – Ed.] stranded on the beach in the Western Cape is as follows:

The first thing to do is to remove the turtle from the beach and place it in a dry container where it cannot drown.
Keep it at room temperature to warm up slowly. These turtles are most likely suffering from hypothermia, which makes them weak; in most instances they are so weak that they cannot lift their heads.
Turtles breathe air, just like us, and if a turtle cannot lift its head out of the water, it cannot breathe and will drown.
Call us as soon as you can on 021 418 3823.
Remember to take note of where the animal was found. It will help us if you could let us know the accurate size and species of the turtle. That way, we can prepare a specific rehabilitation tank for it, before it arrives.

I did all of this. Textbook, mate.


2km back to the cottage, 1 ice cream tub and a 230km journey back to Cape Town, where I met up with two very excited kids, we found ourselves back at the Aquarium, where we handed Houdini (so-called because once warmed up, he mustered enough energy to get out of the tub and escape into the passenger footwell) over to aquarist and all-round turtle-repair specialist Michelle for rehabilitation.

Once he’s fixed up, well fed and a bit bigger, they’ll take him back to the warmer Indian Ocean on the east coast and he’ll be released in Spring/Summer, along with the approximately 200(!) others that they will probably get in during winter. Bearing in mind that loggerheads grow to an average of about 140kg (although the record weight is over 500kg!), that’s a lot of potential turtle to be sending back out into nature.

Hamba kakuhle, Houdini Turtle.