A loggerhead turtle named Yoshi has swum halfway around the world from South Africa to Australia following her release after 20-years in captivity.
Yoshi originally arrived at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town in 1997 after a Japanese fishing boat had reported her having an injury to her shell.
She was the first turtle to be housed at the newly-opened aquarium and since then they have rehabilitated more than 600 of these reptiles.
“We did not know all that much, but she crept into everybody’s hearts, and settled down really quickly,” aquarium chief executive Maryke Musson said. “And she had an enormous personality.”
The much-loved turtle was released in December 2017, and arrived in Australia 26 months later. She averaged 48 kilometers per day.
A wrong turn added another 5000km
Even more remarkable is that Yoshi initially headed up the west coast of southern Africa, as far as Angola – a distance of around 2500km, before making a U-turn and heading back down to Cape Town. From there she crossed the Indian Ocean to a turtle nesting site on Western Australia’s Pilbara coastline.
The scientists tracking her journey believe that she may originally have come from Australia and has gone home to nest and breed.
For the past six weeks, Yoshi has been hanging out in a 30km stretch of coast in the proximity of the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park.
“She was coming to an age when she was probably sexually mature and we were wondering whether she would actually adjust back to life in the wild,” Ms Musson said.
The aquarium staff are also delighted that Yoshi has chosen the location she has, because it is a protected marine area with a healthy existing population of sea turtles.
The Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions have been monitoring Yoshi’s progress.
At the time of her release in Cape Town, Yoshi weighed 180 kilograms.
Image credit: Tanguy Sauvin
Image credit (map): Two Oceans Aquarium