Green Sea Turtle Receives Custom Braces

Koeberg Nature Reserve in South Africa is home to a variety of animals, from springboks to cape cobras. However, the recent arrival of a green sea turtle at the reserve was an unexpected surprise. Green turtles don’t usually live on South African shores, but this particular turtle was desperate enough to look for help. Named Nanuk, she was found weak and dehydrated in a coolant intake pipe and was taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium for rehabilitation.

At Two Oceans, Nanuk has flourished after receiving care from the staff. She appears happy and healthy, but she’s also presenting aquarium staff with a new challenge. A large crack in her shell, likely a result of getting stuck in the coolant pipe, presents possible future health problems for Nanuk. The Two Oceans team has decided to tackle this unique situation head-on by creating braces for the brave turtle. The braces consist of small hooks which are epoxied onto the shell and connected with wires. Over time, these custom-made braces will pull Nanuk’s shell into alignment.

Green sea turtles are an endangered species, hunted nearly to extinction in many of the areas they used to call home. Human activity on beaches means nesting sites are often destroyed, and poachers raid many of the surviving nests for eggs. Still, sea turtles have a fascinating ability to survive as a species. Female turtles lay up to 150 eggs every 12 days, totaling nearly 600 eggs per season. Newborn hatchlings orient themselves by the light of the moon, burrowing out of their nests and following the moonlight towards the sea. The islands off Mozambique and other Indian Ocean islands are popular spots for nesting, and, amazingly, females return to the exact same nesting spot each year.

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