If you have found an injured sea turtle in the Maldives and need sea turtle emergency assistance, please contact the ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre:
How To Deal With a Sea Turtle Emergency
First, ensure your own safety by assessing the situation and taking necessary precautions. Turtles have strong sharp beaks, so take great care when approaching. Water safety advice applies to situations where turtles are found entangled/floating at sea: Do not enter the water unless you are a confident swimmer and are with someone. Never attempt a rescue alone.
- Make some observations. We will ask:
- Where the turtle was found?
- The rough size and weight?
- Whether the turtle is floating?
- Are any obvious external injuries?
- If the turtle is entangled at sea, assess if it can be safely removed from the sea. The net may be attached to coral so should be treated carefully. A knife may be needed to remove net that is anchored to a reef. Try to bring the turtle and net onboard to remove the net.
Handling The Turtle
- To pick up turtles, place one hand over the shell behind the head/shoulder region and the other hand on the bottom of the shell at the back. Do not pick up the turtle using the net. Adult turtles will likely need two people to lift.
- Never handle the sea turtle by their flippers; always hold the shell.
- Take photos or video. If possible, send these to us and we will be able to give you advice for each individual situation. Take photos of the whole turtle from both sides and above, the left and right side of its face, and any specific injuries.
Freeing The Sea Turtle From The Ghost Net
Attempts at freeing the entangled turtle can be made. However, sometimes the net can be embedded deep into the flippers; removing the net can cause considerable bleeding. If at all unsure, then leave the net until the turtle reaches the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre. Please keep the net and send with the turtle if you remove it.
Assessing If The Sea Turtle Needs Medical Attention
- If there are no external injuries and the turtle seems active and well, then consider releasing straight away. If the turtle is able to dive straight off into the deep, this has been a successful rescue! Please report the stranding event here.
- If the turtle is in any way flat, lethargic, with severe wounds, or cannot dive, then they will need veterinary attention. Call, WhatsApp or Viber +960 955 2205 to speak to our Resident Sea Turtle Veterinarian, who will guide you through the steps to assist us in transporting the turtle to our Rescue Centre.
Sea Turtle First Aid
- If there is any active bleeding, place pressure as best you can by use of a towel or something similar. Again, take care if this is near the sharp beak so as not to get bitten!
- If you see a hook, do not attempt to remove it.
- Secure the turtle: wrap a damp towel around it and secure all the flippers (swaddle like a baby). Keep the towels damp during transport.
- Cover the turtle’s eyes to minimise stress.
- Avoid unnecessary handling.
- Use any padding available to you, such as towels or sheets, during transport to increase comfort and security of the turtle.
- Do not attempt to scrub or clean the turtle at this time; the this will stress the turtle further.
Download Our Turtle Entanglement Protocol
Click on the image to download our Turtle Entanglement Protocol – a step-by-step guide on what to do when you find an entangled turtle.