Baby turtle fights for her life

Nompilo Kunene, The Witness

Durban - Ula, a sick baby turtle, is bobbing on top of the water like a cork - and it is not a good sign.

The 7-month-old critically endangered loggerhead turtle captured the hearts of the public, as well as uShaka staff, after lifeguards found her washed ashore, severely dehydrated, on uShaka beach in February this year.

She is suffering from a condition called “positively buoyant”, due to excessive intestinal gas. Ula also has a high white blood cell count, indicative of a serious illness.

Another 2-week-old turtle hatchling named Valentine, also rescued on the same day, did not survive.

But Ula, and hatchling sibling Sam, both responded well to intensive care at uShaka Sea World’s rehabilitation centre, gaining weight and strength from daily diets of mulched sardines and a specially designed gel food.

If Ula enjoys a successful recovery, she will, like others before her, ultimately be released back into the ocean.