ORP Rescue Centre At Overcapacity
Sea turtles are generally solitary animals that rarely interact with each other outside of mating season. It is for this reason that we tend to keep all of our turtle patients in separate tanks. However, in the month of March 2018 we received several new patients requiring urgent care. This left the Rescue Centre at significant overcapacity with 11 turtle patients and only 7 tanks!
Solitary Sea Turtles Sharing Tanks
As we didn’t want to have to put any of our turtles under the stress of being sent away to other centres, the obvious solution seemed to be to temporarily put multiple turtles in one tank. We already had two turtles, Noel and Morgan, sharing the biggest tank. However, as Noel is buoyant and Morgan is not, they occupy different levels of the tank and don’t tend to mind each other. But how would the other solitary sea turtles react at having to share a tank? Especially a smaller tank?
Which Turtle Patients Will Tolerate Each Other?
Penny and Burrito, our two largest and feistiest turtles, were definitely out of the question. The newest patients would need to be in isolation to prevent infection and further stress. That left us with our three youngest turtles – Stitch, Luna, and Crush.
Stitch – Long-Term Turtle Patient
The oldest and biggest of our trio, Stitch is a juvenile Olive Ridley turtle, probably no more than a few years old. She has been with us since June last year and is one of our longest serving patients. Stitch arrived with a severe injury to her left flipper which had to be amputated. She also suffered injuries to her neck and oesophagus. Although she has recovered from her injuries, she continue to suffer from buoyancy issues. Air trapped in her shell makes her unable to dive so we cannot release her. She would not survive in the wild.
Luna and Crush – Two Very Active Baby Turtles
Due to Stitch’s buoyancy issues and docile nature, we were hoping she would not mind sharing a tank with our two very active baby turtles, Luna and Crush. Luna and Crush were both only a few months old when they first arrived at the ORP Rescue Centre. Luna, a baby Olive Ridley, was found entangled in plastic with an injury to her left front flipper and a bone infection. To allow her bone to heal, we created a makeshift splint for her out of an ice cream stick! The bone healed and she soon started to swim and dive very well.
Crush, a baby green turtle, was being kept as a pet before being handed over to Naifaru Juvenile centre in Lhaviyani Atoll. Unfortunately, he developed an ear abscess that needed surgery, and was therefore sent to us. We also determined that he required calcium supplements for his soft shell.
We were unsure of how three turtles with such different personalities would react to being put in the same tank, but we thought we might as well give it a try to see how they would react. To our great surprise – and delight – they actually got along quite well!
Luna loved to hide under Stitch and steal Crush’s food, so we had to keep them separate at feeding times when. However, the rest of the time they, turned into very good friends! We released Crush back into the wild in the beginning of April, and we’re hoping the rest of our turtles will soon follow his lead!