Interning With The Olive Ridley Project

Interning at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

Karam Ibrahim Ali is a 23-year-old student of veterinary medicine at University of Sydney, Australia. She has wanted to be a vet for as long as she can remember and in 2016 she became the first government sponsored veterinary student in the Maldives. We were delighted when Karam chose to spend part of her university required extramural placement interning with ORP at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre. Here is her story.

Working For A Cause

Vet Student Karam

Born and raised in Maldives, I developed a passion for the marine life surrounding us at a very young age. When I found out about the Olive Ridley Project and the Turtle Rescue Centre opening up in Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu with a vet on site, I was over the moon. I made up my mind there and then to visit the centre to complete my university required extramural placements. I have always wanted to work for a cause that holds a special place in my heart and to help out these magnificent creatures in my own home country.

An Intense Learning Experience

Karam assisting with surgery

I arrived at the Rescue Centre with very little knowledge about turtle medicine or husbandry. The three weeks I spent interning at the Centre flew by so fast and it is only now, when I’ve taken the time to sit down and reflect on my experience, I realise how much I’ve learnt and how surreal and amazing these three weeks have been. It is a bizarre thing, to spend three weeks in a place and feel like you arrived yesterday while simultaneously feeling like you’ve always been there.

New And Valuable Skills

Karam providing post up care to a turtle patient

In my time interning at the Rescue Centre, I was lucky to do a wide range of things I have never done before. My duties included everything from feeding turtles and cleaning tanks to wound treatments and making bracelets out of recycled ghost nets. I was lucky enough to be a part of eight surgeries, one post mortem (RIP Shimmi), and two turtle releases. I gained valuable skills and knowledge that will prove useful for my degree and future career.

However, what truly moved me were the incidents that challenged my comfort zone and perspective on a daily basis. The strength, resilience and beauty of these turtles are never lost on me and I found myself being reminded of why I do what I do, every single day. All the blood, sweat and tears put into vet school suddenly made sense. I will always look back on my time at the Rescue Centre when I feel overwhelmed in my challenging and confronting degree.

New Friendships Formed

Karam enjoying the sea view with two volunteers, image
Karam enjoying the view with two volunteers

Aside from the turtles themselves, the best part of this experience has been working with Resident Vet Dr. Jackie and the volunteers. Dr. Jackie is a phenomenal vet and I am constantly in awe of the amazing work she does, so selflessly and genuinely. She is an amazing mentor and a truly generous vet; generous with her love, kindness and ability to care. In just three weeks, Dr. Jackie taught me more than I can ever write down. If I graduate to become even half the vet she is, I will gladly consider it a success.

Karam assisting Vet Jackie with surgery, image
Karam assisting Vet Jackie with surgery

Dr. Jackie has become a lifelong friend, along with the passionate volunteers I met from around the world. Hanging out with them everyday, laughing and joking around through dinners and sunsets for hours on end, was a significant highlight of my experience here. Not once did I feel out of place or alone. We went through so much together in such little time that I shall always cherish them.

Amazing People, Amazing Turtles

Turtle patient Heidi, image
Heidi

Now that I have left, I miss the turtles. Sweet Heidi’s smile during feeding times and feisty Laetitia trying to bite me every time I picked her up for wound care. I miss the friends I have made along the way, and the guests who came in everyday to have a chat. I even miss Larry the bird! He taught me that double checking whether a container lid is securely fastened can save me the effort and time it takes to sprint after a cunning little bird while yelling “Larry get off the fish” as said bird quickly escapes with a massive chunk of tuna intended for the turtles.

Regardless, it is safe to say that this interning experience has changed me in many ways for the better. For that, I am forever grateful to the Olive Ridley Project. I wish this charity, the amazing people and turtles I’ve met the best, and I will be honoured to visit again.


Interning At The Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

The Olive Ridley Project’s Internship Program is open to Maldivian nationals, above the age of 18, with an interest in marine conservation and sea turtles. No prior experience is required. A basic salary, meals and accommodation is provided. We recommend an internship period of 3 months but will consider applications for shorter periods.

As an intern you will:

  • Gain knowledge and experience of sea turtle care and husbandry and wider field of ocean conservation
  • Experience and learn about veterinary medicine and surgery
  • Help the Resident Vet with treating turtles, including X-raying, Ultrasound and surgery
  • Assist with running the Rescue Centre including feeding turtle patinets, tank cleaning, rescues and releases
  • Help to educate guests visiting the Rescue Centre and with local projects

To Apply For An Internship Position

Please email your CV and cover letter to vet@oliveridleyproject.org