Sea turtles are fascinating marine creatures that spend most of their lives in the ocean, coming ashore at certain times in the year to nest. There are seven species of sea turtle and sadly six out of seven are now endangered, with three on the critically endangered list.

An organisation that is doing a lot of work with sea turtles is The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, a Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation. It was founded by The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town to inspire people to care about the oceans and to promote and expand on educational, conservation and research initiatives.

Here, the outgoing CEO The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, Maryke Musson, shares her passion for sea turtle conservation. A marine scientist by training, she is fascinated by the ocean, in particular sea turtle rescue.

Coincidentally, the Foundation’s turtle conservation work started the year that the Peace Park was established in 1997 with the arrival of the world-famous loggerhead sea turtle, Yoshi. She actually embodies transfrontier, transboundary and transcontinental travel because on her release, she travelled from Africa all the way to Australia, helping to shape the amazing conservation message all over the world. The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is perfectly positioned to help sea turtles that wash up all along the Western Cape coastline in South Africa. Most of these sea turtles are little hatchlings from the nesting sites along southern Mozambique, where Peace Park Foundation projects are based. They wash up mostly because they pop out of the warmer water gullies when the currents get really cold, put their little flippers on their backs and just end up on the beach.

People then rescue the little sea turtles and send them to the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, where they then spend anywhere from eight to twelve months in the sea turtle hospital, where they are nursed back to health, ready for release.

Larger sea turtles are also rescued, often with a lot of injuries from plastic pollution or ghost fishing gear. They also stay at the Foundation’s Sea Turtle Hospital, the ultimate aim being to get them healthy as quickly as possible and return them back in the ocean where they belong. They are, after all true ocean travellers.

More than 700 endangered sea turtles have been rescued, rehabilitated and released, over the last decade.

If nesting sites up in Mozambique were not protected, it’s quite likely that there wouldn’t be little hatchlings in need of help. Turtle conservation in Mozambique started in the 1960s, and at the time there were only about two hundred to three hundred nesting loggerhead females and only about six leatherback females. And because of the incredible efforts from various conservation organisations that has increased to over 5000 nesting loggerhead females and close on 18 nesting leatherbacks. So turtle conservation in South Africa and Mozambique is a beautiful success story and the inspiration and motivation to put in the effort to conserve beautiful coastal areas and marine parks.