Durban- The journey of Pemba, the first Olive Ridley turtle to be satellite tagged in South Africa, continues to amaze marine scientists who are studying her migratory route.
The Daily News has been regularly updating readers on her whereabouts. Just before the long weekend holiday, on March 29, Pemba was 425 nautical miles (787 kms) south of Cape Point and seems to be moving in an Easterly direction. The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR)is tracking her movements for the next 18 to 24 months.
Pemba was released, with a satellite tracking device, at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, on the KwaZulu Natal north coast, on March 9. Joint efforts by Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and uShaka Sea World in Durban ensured Pemba was rehabilitated and released after four years of rehabilitation.
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.
Olive Ridley turtles are uncommon along the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal and, unlike the loggerhead and leatherback turtles, they do not nest on local beaches. Small populations of this species of turtle are found off northern Mozambique, Tanzania and north-west Madagascar