The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation’s conservation team cares for compromised sea turtles, such as Annie, the loggerhead sea turtle and prepares them for release back to their home into the ocean.
Annie has been in the care of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation since 31 July 2019, when she was rescued by the NSRI after being found tangled in a ghost fishing net at Noordhoek Beach.
Annie was fortunate not to have drowned or have any serious external injuries, but the shock and long-term impact of this experience led to her having a particularly noticeable bubble butt.
“Bubble butt” is a semi-official term that’s used to describe a condition in turtles where the back of their body becomes too buoyant, making their butts float. Often this is the result of a build-up of gas inside the turtle’s carapace caused by an infection or injury – often from ingesting sharp bits of plastic. Unfortunately, despite its relatively innocuous name, bubble butt, or the condition that causes it, can be potentially deadly to a sea turtle.
The aquarium said her 13-month rehabilitation was an incredibly perplexing and consuming one. Annie survived because of the incredible around the clock care by the turtle rehabilitation team at the Aquarium Foundation, where she was surrounded by caring staff.
Annie the loggerhead has since made a remarkable recovery, she has regained her full strength, has a huge appetite and has no sign of any injury or infection. After a number of medical checks, she has been given medical clearance for release, and will be returning to the ocean in summer when waters are warmer.
“She is fully capable of diving, swimming, reaching the surface for air, finding her own food and doing all the things that are required of a turtle when swimming free in the sea. Annie will be released at the end of the year, but it would be really satisfying to be able to pinpoint exactly what has going on with her so that we can learn from it and release even more healthy turtles in the future,” – Talitha Noble, Two Ocans Aquarium Education Foundation Conservation Coordinator.
To get her release ready, Annie had to be taken to a human hospital for a final CT scan recently, just to make sure her ‘bubble butt buoyancy’ won’t be a problem. The results did not show anything of concern.
Until her release date, Annie will keep getting her favourite snack, squid, to build up more strength for all the swimming ahead. When the time comes, she will be taken 30 nautical miles offshore for release into the lovely temperate current.