Read and learn from the latest Two Oceans Aquarium blog post, people:
It’s that time of year again, when the Two Oceans Aquarium starts to receive calls from concerned members of the public who come across stranded juvenile (and occasionally sub-adult) turtles on the beaches of the Western Cape. The tiny turtles you may come across are most likely hatchlings and the size of your hand. They wash up on our beaches, suffering from hypothermia.
Unsurprisingly, in Yzerfontein, these tiny turtles come ready frozen.
Now, turtles being sea-dwelling creatures, you might expect reasonably that getting them back into the sea would be the most obvious and helpful thing to do. Add to this the fact that these little turtles appear to be stranded on the beach, and it would also seem sensible to assist them to get as far from land as possible. DO NOT THROW THE TINY TURTLE BACK INTO THE SEA.
In fact, don’t put them near any water at all – even if you have a turtle stretcher.
Yes – I’m serious:
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.
Once you have found a tiny turtle on the beach around the Cape Town coast, it needs rehabilitation. 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.
Dry containers: keeping tiny turtles from drowning since 1992. Actually, it’s a little known fact that it’s incredibly difficult for any creature to drown in a dry container.
And see how they state to “keep it at room temperature”?
DO NOT MICROWAVE THE TINY TURTLE.
There’s no place in this world for the pastime of microwaving small animals unless you plan to eat them immediately afterwards. And there’s virtually no meat on a tiny turtle anyway, so go grab a sandwich instead.
Contact us immediately (+27 (0)21 418 3823) and get the turtle to us as quickly as possible.
Very important: At no stage should the turtle be placed in water as it could drown.
The Aquarium has a team of trained aquarists who have lots of experience in caring for stranded turtles.
Depending on where you are, due to the recent fuel price increases, this could be quite expensive, but you’ve come this far – no throwing, no microwaving, supply of a suitably dry container – so you might as well follow this through. However, at this point:
DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO POST THE TINY TURTLE.
While a padded envelope may seem to be an adequately “dry container”, the vagaries of the South African postal system will almost certainly result in the tiny turtle being lost in transit. Tiny turtles require food as well as not water and they probably won’t find much nutrition in the bubble wrap, although they may have a lot of fun popping it before they pop their clogs.
However, opting to post the tiny turtle defeats the aim of attempting to save the tiny turtle in the first place.
Rather head to the Aquarium.
Once you have passed responsibility of the tiny turtle onto the team of trained aquarists, it is quite literally out of your hands. But you can go on your way safe in the knowledge that your lack of throwing, use of kitchen appliances and the local postal system, together with the provision of a commodious receptacle probably saved the life of that tiny turtle.
Don’t expect him to thank you though, because tiny turtles do not possess the complex vocal cords required for human speech. And even if they did, they are renowned for their absolutely appalling manners and lack of gratitude.