Sea Turtle Rescue at a South Africa Nuclear Plant

Nanuk, a subadult green sea turtle found off the coast of South Africa in September, has found herself fitted with a new shell brace. Green sea turtles are not commonly found near South Africa. When a young sea turtle is away from the warm ocean currents, it can have trouble navigating and even regulating its body temperature.

In her disoriented state, Nanuk managed to find herself in a cooling pipe at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Her shell was likely cracked when she became wedged in the pipe. A cracked shell can ultimately cause health problems. Releasing her back into the ocean right away was not a viable option.

Determining the sex of a young sea turtle is difficult. Her caretakers are guessing that she is female. Her name, on the other hand, is well considered. Nanuk means “master of bears” in Inuit and “ice lolly” in Slovak. The “nuk” sound is a fun reference to her time at the nuclear power plant.

She was rescued by Eskom Employees from the Koeberg Nature Preserve and taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium. After her ordeal, she was quick to recover once she was treated and was soon briskly swimming around her tank.

Health workers at the Two Oceans Aquarium sea turtle rehabilitation and release center were able to fit Nanuk with metal braces to hold her shell together. Wires epoxied onto her shell will hold the shell in place. This treatment is experimental and may require adjustments down the road. When she is fully recovered she will be released back into the ocean.

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