Turtle Patient 124: Discovery (Disco), Juvenile Olive Ridley
Disco was found floating and missing a flipper near One & Only Reethi Rah in North Malé Atoll.
Intake Date: 7 February 2020
Patient Number: 124
Rescue Location: North Malé Atoll
Reason: Found floating, missing flipper
Transport Method: Seaplane
Status: Current patient
Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Length: 43.3 cm
Weight: 6.85 kg
Discovery has kindly been adopted by Angela, Stėphane Grosjean, for Lakshya by Tanya Desai, for Tanya by Lakshya, by Stefan, for Maddy by Alex Sharp, by Alexandra, Tara, for Poppy by Melanie, by Nadine Kohlhepp, Rhonda, Ryan Matesevac, Laken Messer, Alison Lauderback, Darren Agcaoili, for Cherie by Miranda, for Lars by Ann-Kristin Deutsch, by Crystal Nelson, Svetlana Kutukova, for Ellie by Tom Miller, by Sherry Thibeault, Kristen Egbertson, Lori Bennett, for Lauren by Karen Campana, by Carl Stahl, for Andreas and Jana by Natalie, by Alex Baker, for Phillip by Nicole & Dajana, by Tim Edwards, Luci and by Rosa Wirnsberger.
Just as our team at One & Only Reethi Rah had released Reethi, Discovery was located at one of the neighboring islands and brought to our Sea Turtle Biologist. Discovery has lost her left flipper due to ghost net entanglement and is also buoyant.
She spent a few days at One & Only Reethi Rah before being sent to Dr. Jackie at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre to be checked over.
10 February 2020
We took Xrays of Discovery once she arrived at the Rescue Centre and found that she has a pneumocoelom (air in the body) from a lung tear. Some air and fluid was removed from her body cavity. She still floats and this will take some time to resolve. Her flipper injury has healed over quite nicely and hopefully we may not need to operate to remove the last piece of humerus bone.
25 February 2020
Disovery, popularly known as Disco, is still as buoyant as when she arrived. She is very frustrated that she cannot dive, but her appetite is great.
2 March 2020
Discovery will be going on a sea swim in the coming week to encourage her to try and dive. She had a good appetite and is quite a character.
26 March 2020
Discovery is very curious, often watching out of the window. She is regularly trying to dive and gets very frustrated that she can’t go very deep. We have seen slight improvements in her diving ability when feeding and she seems to sit a little lower in the water, but still can’t reach the bottom of the small tank. She currently has a couple of lesions on the back of her neck from where she is pushing her head up to the glass and making her neck rub on her carapace. Disco will be moved to a bigger tank as of Sunday to give her some more space to swim and practice diving.
6 April 2020
Discovery has been moved to a larger tank and seems much more relaxed with that extra space. She is continuing to practice her diving but buoyancy improvements will likely take time.
13 April 2020
Discovery has been refusing food for the last few days but fortunately turtles can go quite a few days without eating. We managed to get her some crab and she loved it! Unfortunately she’s still refusing fish but we are being patient. Hopefully she will be back to normal soon.
19 April 2020
Discovery has lost quite a bit of weight over the last week, but fortunately she has started eating again. We have been giving her fluids to help her cope with the weight loss and we have also started her on another course of antibiotics.
26 April 2020
Discovery’s appetite has got much better and she has put on a healthy amount of weight. We are really pleased with her progress this week.
3 May 2020
Disco is eating well still and practicing her diving. She loves pushing around her ball in the big tank!
10 May 2020
Disco is doing well. She will be going on her first sea swim this week, which is exciting!
26 May 2020
Diso loved her first sea swim! She started by trying to dive, eventually became more relaxed, and even started watching the fish and baby sharks. She has overcome her recent setback where she was refusing to eat. She is now back to a healthy weight and is sitting a little lower in the water.
24 June 2020
Discovery hasn’t made much progress recently with regards to her buoyancy issues, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to dive – she is very determined!
23 July 2020
Disco is still suffering with her buoyancy issues. We are taking her on regular sea swims to try help her overcome this, but we have seen little improvements so far. She is a very energetic turtle though – always trying to dive and improve her swimming – so we have high hopes for her. Fortunately. her appetite has increased drastically so we are able to use food to tempt her to dive!
25 September 2020
Disco’s buoyancy issues are still ongoing, and she is noticeably more raised in the water on her left hand side, meaning that the air distribution is asymmetrical. Dr. Minnie was able to give her a thorough examination and perform some repeat x-rays to see where this gas was.
She has signs of gas in her body cavity as before, but also signs of gas in her intestines as well. This hasn’t been a feature before, so she is scheduled for an ultrasound which will allow us to see her gastrointestinal tract better than on x-rays. Unfortunately, when you x-ray a turtle, a lot of their organs are obscured by their bony shells! At the same time, she will have a small procedure to remove some of the air that is in her body cavity with the hopes that this will improve her buoyancy.
4 October 2020
Disco had some x-rays this week just to reassess what is going on. She has evidence of some pocketing of gas in her left lung which is likely due to her long standing buoyancy and is consistent with the clinical picture of her floating higher on her left side. We will continue to monitor. She also had some evidence of gas in her intestines, so we are going to get a faecal sample from her to look for worms and worm eggs and then she might benefit from a de-wormer. She will be going on a sea swim soon, but she finds them more stressful than everyone else.
10 October 2020
Disco has been out swimming once this week and she did really well. She made a few attempts to dive down but of course she can’t get far at all. However, she generally seemed to get off quicker and was calmer about things, so good signs. Even though the current was strong too she managed herself well. Her appetite has been picky this week but she has loved the prawns that we requested from the kitchen. She also goes mad for crabs so we have gone out once this week to catch them for her.
1 November 2020
Disco has been her usual changeable self! Sometimes she has an excellent appetite and other times she spits everything out until you give her squid! The main thing is that she is always keen for food and chases it – it’s just that once she gets it in her mouth, she seems to change her mind. She completed a worming course in October with 3 days in a row of powdered wormer hidden in squid pockets. This was to exclude parasites like flukes and other intestinal worms as being a feature in her buoyancy issues. She also had a repeat x-ray to see if there was any change, but nothing really very different of note.
Disco spent a week in the big tank – which she made good use of. We popped a bit of interesting rock at the bottom to see if she might be inclined to dive, and she have a bit of a go, but it is quite hard for her. We are devising a little weight belt to help pull her left side down so that she can gain more purchase in the water and increase her confidence swimming.
8 November 2020
Disco has had to be moved into the smaller tanks due to some tank issues this week – and she is not as happy there as she is in the other ones! It has resulted in her being pickier than usual appetite wise, but generally otherwise she is getting on fine. We are still in the process of devising a weighted belt for her to pull her left side down so she can get more purchase in the water, and to also prevent any potential chronic changes to her lungs.
16 November 2020
Disco has been a bit pickier with her food this week! One day eating like a horse, the next day being a bit more disinterested. We think it is more environmental than anything to do with her health, as otherwise everything is normal with her; she is active, alert, passing normal faeces etc.
23 November 2020
Disco has been as changeable as always! Her appetite is a little all over the place, keeping us on our toes! But overall she is as bright, active and determined.
30 November 2020
Disco had a sea swim on 25th which she loved, always trying to dive but still her buoyancy gets in the way.
7 December 2020
Disco has had a trial of her weight belt. Due to the distribution of her abnormal buoyancy, it is hard to get the weight belt in the right position and she managed to get it off with her flipper – which she was very determined to do! We need to go back to the drawing board but it certainly did have the effect we wanted of pulling her down on the left hand side, so we are hopeful it will help her out when we do get it sorted.
13 December 2020
Disco has been a bit on and off with eating this week but she is prone to that kind of pickiness! She is otherwise bright and active as always. We are struggling to fit her with an appropriate weight belt at the moment due to her determinedness to remove it at every opportunity.
28 December 2020
Disco developed an eye ulcer and it seemed to have come out of nowhere. She was started on a regime of eye drops 3-4 times a day, dropping down to twice a day recently given the excellent improvement. She hasn’t been eating this week, probably as she is really resenting all the interaction we have with her to give her the eye drops. Hopefully her appetite will pick up now that we’re leaving her alone more!
11 January 2021
Discovery has been wearing her weight belt as often as possible, although it is still unfortunately falling off every now and again due to the stickiness of the tape reducing in the water. However, it does seem to be making a difference which is great. She is regaining her appetite and love of food after her downturn last week.
17 January 2021
Disco is feeling much more herself now, chasing food as normal and active in her tank. She went out for a sea swim this week and really enjoyed that!
24 January 2021
Disco had a procedure to remove air from under her shell. We removed 500mls but it hasn’t made any noticeable or significant difference as of yet. We will continue to try once a week for a month to see if any changes can be noted.
31 January 2021
Disco had a procedure to remove air from her shell which was a lot more successful this time round, resulting in around 2 litres removed and a remarkable change in her appearance and buoyancy. Unfortunatel,y this has proven that her lung tear is still large and open, because she filled back up not long afterwards. In order to fix this, we are going to need more specialist equipment.
7 February 2021
Poor Disco has not been 100% recently. She has been steadily losing weight and her appetite is a bit too variable for our liking. She had a blood sample last week that didn’t reveal anything particularly exciting, but we have noted that she has some inflammation to the lining of her cloaca, so we suspect she has a gastrointestinal infection. She will be started on medication and monitored closely.
23 February 2021
Disco has been started on antibiotics for a gastrointestinal infection and she does seem to be doing better. She is more consistent with her eating, which is always good, although she has gone right off her favourite skin on tuna and only likes reef fish! We just can’t keep up with her whims!
7 March 2021
Disco has been brighter and more active on her medication, and is eating more consistently, although she is still a picky thing!
15 March 2021
Disco has been improving this week. We stopped her stopped antibiotics as intestinal infection has resolved. She still is picky, but she has gained weight back to where she was (from 7.2kg to 7.7kg) and she seems brighter!
22 March 2021
Disco has been back on form this week, eating much more vigorously and has gained back the weight she lost after having a GI infection.
29 March 2021
Disco is back to eating well, back to her normal weight (although still has more to gain) and seems generally brighter in herself.
4 April 2021
Disco is back to being her active, hungry self, but of course, no change to her buoyancy. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see any improvements until we get the endoscope and can check what is going on in her lungs.