Turtle Patient 179: Autumn, Sub-Adult Olive Ridley

Turtle patient Autumn fitted with a satellite tag and ready for release. Image.
Autumn fitted with the first satellite tag ever deployed by ORP.

Autumn is a subadult olive ridley turtle who was found entangled in a large ghost net in Baa Atoll by Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. After just short of two months at the Rescue Centre, Autumn as released with the first ever satellite tag deployed by ORP! unfortunately Autumn’s satellite tag stopped transmitting data on 10 June 2022.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 22 February 2022
Patient Number: 179
Rescue Location: Baa Atoll
Reason: Found entangled
Transport Method: Speedboat
Status: Released 18 April 2022

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Unknown
Age: Sub-Adult
Length: 57.8 cm
Weight: 17.7 kg

Autumns Journey

Tag Deployed: 17 April 2022
Tagged Turtle #: 1
Date Released: 18 April 2022
Release Location: Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Release Region: Baa Atoll, Maldives

Travel Direction: South East, then East
Total Distance Travelled: 2,272 km
Est. Average Speed Per Hour: 1.8 km
Average Daily Distance: 42.1 km
Deepest Dive: 151-160 m

The Adoptive Parents

Autumn has kindly been adopted by Ennio Floris Linder, and for Marianne by Gunter & Monika.

Autumn’s Story

Autumn is a sub-adult olive ridley and was found in a large ghost net in Baa Atoll. She has complete loss of her left flipper and exposure of the humerus bone. Her right flipper has a deep healing ligature wound, but one that seems to have damaged the underlying bone as she cannot use her flipper completely normally at the moment. She is otherwise in quite good condition, although is mildly buoyant. She will need surgery to remove the remains of the left flipper, and will likely need a lot of physio on the remaining right flipper but her prognosis is good.

6 March 2022
Autumn underwent surgery a few days after arrival to remove the remains of her left flipper stump. The surgery went very well and she woke up perfectly. She has since been swimming and diving in the tank and was even seen resting on the bottom. Her right flipper has extensive necrotic tissue on it so she will need some more time for wound care before she can be released, but overall her prognosis is excellent.

13 March 2022
Autumn is now diving and resting easily on the bottom of the tank. Her left amputation wound is healing up well, while her right flipper is progressing as expected with some dead tissue appearing. She has normal function of her right flipper so once that has healed most of the way, we will be able to release her back to the ocean.

20 March 2022
Autumn has now moved on to eating tuna – which is great – and she is spending most of her time resting at the bottom of her tank. Her flipper usage is looking much better and the flipper is healing, so hopefully it won’t be long before she is back in the ocean.

27 March 2022
Autumn is doing really well, being very active and eating lots! She has full control of her buoyancy and is an excellent diver. It won’t be long before she’s off!

3 April 2022
Autumn is going from strength to strength; she has a great appetite and her diving is continually excellent. Her flipper usage is improving and her wounds are nearly completely healed. It won’t be long before we can send her on her way!

10 April 2022
Autumn is excellent and nearly ready to go. We just need to repeat a blood sample, and then even more excitingly we think she will be our first satellite tagging candidate!

18 April 2022
Autumn was released from the beach today as our first satellite tagged patient! We are very excited to find out where in the world she will go. Stay tuned for updates. Find out more about our sea turtle tracking research here.

26 April 2022
In the first 8 days of her journey, Autum has travelled 160 km south east of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. Right now it looks like she is heading towards Sri Lanka!

30 June 2022
Autumn had travelled an astounding 2,271 kms up until the 10th of June, which is when her tag, unfortunately stopped emitting data. There are many reasons for the tag to have stopped working: biofouling organisms may have overgrown certain sensors or it could have simply fallen off while Autumn swam across the seas.

The three-flippered Autumn was covering close to 42.1 km on an everyday average and her deepest dive was recorded at an impressive 151-160m. Autumn had traveled passed Sri Lanka, first seemingly heading north into the Bay of Bengal, but had recently taking a slight turn to the south, heading in the direction of the Ninetyeast Ridge, a mid-ocean ridge running near-parallel to the 90th meridian in the Indian Ocean.

While it is regrettable that we lost connection with Autumn, the data that we have managed to receive from her tag will go a long way in helping us fill gaps in sea turtle research. We still collected 55 days of tracking data in which Autumn showed great swimming speed and dive capabilities comparable to olive ridleys with all flippers intact, showing that amputees still can do well in the wild. Further future analysis will let us look at details of dive profiles and allow us to put Autumns tracking data in relation to that of other #ORPTrack turtles.