Turtle-y Amazing Turnaround - uShaka Marine World
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Emily Green Turtle at uShaka

Turtle-y Amazing Turnaround

We are happy to report that Emily, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) who was admitted to uShaka Sea World on the 7th of September 2019 with signs of lung trauma, is thankfully making great progress.

When Emily arrived, she weighed a mere 5kgs but has steadily put on another 5,8kgs over the past nine weeks.

As she was considerably underweight and did not feed well in the first couple of weeks after her arrival, she has been offered a mixed diet of fish, squid, codium, crabs and sea lettuce. Sardines are her absolute favourite. As she regains her strength, she will slowly be weaned off her predominantly carnivorous diet onto a more natural herbivorous diet.

Besides helping her regain her strength, we are focussed on helping her overcome some serious lung challenges. When x-rays confirmed our initial suspicion that her lungs had collapsed, the right one being most severely damaged, we knew that the road to recovery would be a long one.

She will continue to spend her days in a small, confined, shallow pool which will allow her damaged lungs a chance to heal. Occasionally, under the watchful eyes of the hovering staff she goes for a brief swim in a deeper pool.  Turtles have a very slow metabolism which means the healing process is naturally going to take longer than the same condition in mammals.

Emily’s progress has been a little slower than some of the other turtles who have been admitted over the years, but the key is patience and observation.  Emily is a calm and gentle young turtle, most of the time! This all changes instantly when I give her carapace a scratching.  I first noticed that she favoured positioning herself and kept repositioning herself under the incoming water faucet so that the water cascaded down her carapace.  This is not the first time we have witnessed this behaviour in recovering turtles.  If you look at an x-ray of a turtles skeletal structure, you will see that it runs down under their carapace accompanied by a network of nerves” said Senior Aquarist, Malini Pather.