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Look out specially for tiny turtles

Nineteen tiny sea turtles have been rescued along the Overstrand coast in recent weeks.

These turtles are a small percentage of the thousands of loggerhead, leatherback and other sea turtles that hatch on the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal every year. Some of these hatchlings are swept away by rough seas every year and wash up on our coastline.

Overstrand residents are urged to keep a look-out for these tiny turtles, which are weak and tired because of their odyssey in the cold and rough seas.

Meaghan McCord of the SA Shark Conservancy based in the Old Harbour in Hermanus says people should especially search for the tiny hatchlings among kelp washed up on shore. “Sometimes they are so still that they appear to be dead,” she added.

“In the past month,” says McCord, “39 sea turtles have been found along the Western Cape coastline. There were 11 fatalities and 28 survived.”

When you find some of these turtles on the beach, do not put them back in the sea. Rather pick them up and keep them dry.

Two Oceans Aquarium rescue coordinator, Tracy Whitehead, advised people to place it in a tub on a piece of dry towel.

“If you want to put a lid on, ensure it has air holes. Do not wet, wash, feed or try to clean it. Keep it out of the wind and direct sunlight,” she warned.

The Overstrand Municipality, in collaboration with the South African Shark Conservancy and other role players, have set up a number of drop-off points where the turtles will be temporarily housed. They will then be moved to the Two Oceans Aquarium, where they will be rehabilitated until they are strong and healthy, before being sent to uShaka Sea World in Durban, where they are released into the warmer waters off the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Drop off points for our area: . Overstrand Fire Station in Mussel Street, Hermanus Industria (open 24/7) . South African Shark Conservancy, Old Harbour, Hermanus. You can also call 028 312 3029 or send an email to meag@sharkconservancy.org. African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Gansbaai. They can be contacted on 072 598 7117 or email penguin@apss.org.za . Environmental Management Section of Overstrand Municipality on 028 316 3724 (o/h) or the Control Room 028 313 8000/8111 or Emergency Control Room on 028 312 2400 (a/h).

After hours contact Tarron Dry on 083 366 9490.

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