You can help stranded turtles

It’s that time of year again, where turtle hatchlings are washing up on our Cape Town shoreline as a result of stormy sea conditions. The turtles, which hatched on the KwaZulu-Natal coast are swept into the  strong Agulhas  Current that torpedoes them all the way from KwaZulu-Natal. The poor little creatures arrive dehydrated, cold and weak. The hatchlings are extremely buoyant and are thus easily swept onto our beaches. The Turtle Conservation Centre of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation provides these battered babies with a safe haven, rescuing and rehabilitating them so that they grow strong enough to be released back into the wild. If you happen to come across a turtle on your next beach stroll, we’ve got some tips on how you can help save its life. And they don’t involve placing it back in the ocean… just yet.



The sea turtles that wash up on our shores hatch in KZN during the summer months. They love the warm Indian Ocean, but the fast-paced Agulhas current is not easy to navigate. It sweeps many a hatchling all the way down south to Cape shores, taking them through much colder waters that place their tiny bodies in shock. On their journey, these turtles (many adults also fall victim to this) battle against ocean predators and often mistakenly ingest plastic waste, causing further damage to their systems. Being rescued after washing up on a beach offers them a second chance at life.


The ‘hospital’ at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation is where such turtles are cared for. After undergoing a full medical assessment, their treatment programme is determined. Flipper amputations, respiratory tract or ear infections, or hypothermia are all dealt with accordingly, while plastic ingestion requires special attention. Rehabilitation usually lasts the entire winter season, giving hatchlings a change to heal and grow stronger so that they’re ready for a summertime release back into the ocean, when waters are warmer.


Healthy, rehabilitated turtles are returned to the ocean with the help of organisations like the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Hooked on Africa. Adult turtles usually spend some time in the Two Oceans Aquarium’s I&J Ocean Exhibit before their release, to strengthen their limbs and get them fit again. Some are tagged with satellite tags on release so that their progress can be monitored and used for research and future rescue programmes and studies on turtle movement in the oceans. Hatchlings are chipped before release so that they can easily be identified if they wash up somewhere else.


How to rescue a stranded turtle

Never place a stranded turtle back in the water! It washed up because it’s too weak to swim and needs to be rehabilitated first.

Find your nearest Turtle Network Point or call the hotline number below. They will give you the information you need and coordinate efforts to get the turtle into the hands of trained veterinary staff at our Turtle Conservation Centre.


Turtle rescue hotline

Report all stranded turtles by calling 083 300 1663.