This Hawksbill Turtle has spent the last 36 hours in our Rehabilitation Centre. The turtle was covered in barnacles, it’s underside was the worst affected but they were also on the top of the carapace, head and flippers. We kept the turtle in fresh water to loosen the barnacles and then gave it a good clean up before setting it free from a beautifully sunny Watamu beach today.
Barnacles often grow on turtles but an infestation like this one could quickly become a major problem if they are left to grow. The increased weight and drag can cause issues with the turtle’s ability to swim, barnacles near the eyes can cause visionary problems and any on the mouth can make eating very difficult.
Barnacles are tough creatures and they don’t let go easily. Trying to remove them, especially on areas of soft tissue can be very painful and damage the turtle. Turtle’s can survive in fresh water for several days whereas those tough barnacles don’t do so well. They either fall off by themselves or are otherwise very easy to scrape off.
Hawksbill Turtles are a critically endangered species. It’s always a great feeling when we can send a healthy turtle back out to the ocean and give it a fighting chance of survival. Hopefully, this turtle will mature, have the chance to breed and help ensure the future of its species.