Monday, 5 August 2019

Green Turtle SAVED in 1933 and Endangered Turtle DIED in 2019


CAPE TIMES – 1933, September 27


A fine Green Turtle was brought into the Cape Town docks by a locally owned trawler. It weighed 220 lb and was sold to one of the large hotels. The turtle was captured when Capt. WT Taylor, in charge of the Star of the South, was trawling 20 miles off the land near Mossel Bay in 50 fathoms. When the net was being hove up with a good load of fish in it, a large turtle covered with a thin coating of emerald green weed was seen entering the mouth of the net. For three days the turtle was kept in a fish pond on the deck.
Captain Taylor, a keen observer of marine life, said that green turtles were often seen off the coastline during the summer months, and it was almost unknown for one to be met with in September. Most probably it had been carried south by the warm Mozambique current and got lost in the colder waters along the South Coast. There was just the possibility that it came down the West Coast, for turtles were plentiful in and near the tropics in both sides of Africa.
Capt. Taylor also saw several large schools of dolphins and his trawler was followed by a pair of “spechoppers,” / grampus, the deadly enemy of dolphins. These “spechoppers” were 15 to 20 feet long, the back being black and the underpart mottled or pure white with the sheen of enamel. They had powerful teeth in both jaws and made short work of an eight-foot dolphin. As soon as a grampus got among a school of dolphins, the latter raced for their lives and could be seen leaping out of the water in their anxiety to avoid their enemies. Usually grampuses went about in pairs, but sometimes as many as six had been seen together. Cape pigeons were plentiful among the south coast, but the albatross was an extremely rare visitor. Mollymawks, and several species of the petrel, besides gulls, were always following a vessel for hours waiting for a good meal of offal.
This story reminded me of the Most Critically Endangered Turtle in the World - the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus Swinhoei). Just three confirmed individuals of the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle were left behind when the world's only known female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle died in China's Suzhou Shanfangshan Forest Zoo on 2019, April 13, following an attempt to artificially inseminate her. 

More about Green Turtles & Grampuses:

More about the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle:


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