One of nature’s gentle citizens of the sea washed up on the Dolphin Coast over the weekend.
The decomposing carcass of a loggerhead turtle was found at Zinkwazi Beach on Sunday, after apparently being struck by a boat.
“When turtles surface to breath they are largely oblivious to the surroundings due to their vision and hearing being better adapted to the subsurface,” said Zinkwazi resident Joshua Pons.
Ezemvelo honourary Jasper Poms was one of many people who came out to view the turtle, and to record the discovery as the loggerhead is a vulnerable species.
In May a whale carcass washed ashore at the same spot, which Poms used as an opportunity to educate local youths from rural areas.
Loggerhead turtles can live for more than 60 years in the wild and are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths, turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls, boat-strikes claim many turtles and the destruction of their habitat and nesting areas also put them at risk.
The loggerhead nesting season in the southern hemisphere lasts from October to March and represents their most vulnerable time.
“The turtles beach to lay eggs in dunes,” explained Pons, who is also a conservation ecology honours student at Stellenbosch.
“It is a stressful and very vulnerable part of their life cycle, which is slow and takes hours,” he said.
Pons said he had seen turtles that had been flipped over and hacked with a cane knife.
“The poachers sell the eggs for muthi.”
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