Turtle Patient 124: Discovery (Disco), Juvenile Olive Ridley

Flipper amputee Disco at the Rescue Centre. Image.

Disco was found floating and missing a flipper near One&Only Reethi Rah in North Malé Atoll.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 7 February 2020
Patient Number: 124
Rescue Location: North Malé Atoll
Reason: Found floating, missing flipper
Transport Method: Seaplane
Status: Deceased13 April 2022

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Unknown
Age: Juvenile
Length: 43.3 cm
Weight: 6.85 kg

The Adoptive Parents

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, Rosa Wirnsberger, for Henry by Paul, by Lauren Jaye, for Maria by Paul, by Dana & Thomas, by the Saywhat Bottles Team, by Piet Baer, Lotte Trippaers, for Victoria by Cristina, by John, Lee Rush Schwartz, Karyna, for Garrett by Ciara Burton-Rivera and Daniel Rivera, by Trinity, Jodie, for Paige by Jen Silacci, by Loriane Dos Santos, Valeriia Chivikina, for Angelica by Christopher Harper, by Eric Schmid, for Marzia by Emanuele Fois, for Angelica by Christopher Harper, by Lisa DeMeritt, Ricarda, Elisei Aleksandrov, for Mina by Katharina Vorweg-Wiemers, for John by Heather Hornsby, by Rachele, Diane Sargent, Khalifa, Kathleen Richards, Victor Gomez Garcia, Mousumi Das, Selina & Sandro, Juliane Dardeau, Ellis Stabler, Yvonne Kucharzuk, Alexandra & Dayanara, Richard Schmitt & Bianca Felicia Eichhorn, Jana, for Alexandra by Sam Webster, by Stefan, Susanne. for Angelika by Annika, by Barbara Vassalli, by Angela, James Romulus Buzon, by Matthew Ford, for Daniel and Leia by Maksim Shtern, by Christina, Claire & George, for Mary Elizabeth by Genevieve Sulway, by Ines, Amber Kibler, for Janice Marie by Tamara R Jasper, by Bartosz Piotrowski, Jerry L Cook, Lee Cannan, Christian Neuhold, and for Larry by Jodi Freda.

Disco’s Story

The outpouring of messages we have received concerning Disco shows how widely loved she was, and we couldn’t be more grateful! 

Over the last two years, we left no stone unturned in Disco’s treatment. Unfortunately, Disco suffered from severe buoyancy syndrome right from the get-go. She had been floating on the surface, tilting to her left when she came to us in early 2020. We made regular attempts to remove the excessive air trapped in her body cavity, but the problem kept recurring, hampering her ability to dive. Her recent endoscopy procedure revealed incredibly abnormal lungs with severe pathologic changes, especially in her left lung. Given the grave prognosis and the fact that she was struggling under anesthesia due to her abnormal lungs, the team eventually made the painful decision to not recover her during the anesthesia. With such degree of damage in her lungs and the persistent buoyancy with a left tilt, it would have been impossible for her to survive in the wild. She couldn’t have been re-homed in an aquarium either, considering her complete loss of ability to dive. 

Our aim has always been to treat and release patients as quickly as possible, since sea turtles are wild animals and are not suited to a life in captivity. Therefore, in certain acute cases like Disco’s – where there seems to be no hope for recovery, it is better to let them go, however difficult that decision is to make. No words can truly express how the team feels, but we hope you find comfort in the memories of Discovery. We know she will be missed.

We thank you again for your concern, love and support for Disco. 

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.

11 April 2021
Disco went out for a sea swim this week and she actually did really well! She was bright and active and seemed to really like looking at the fish. As always, she did her best to dive but isn’t able to get very far. It’s great to see her looking so well though after her gastrointestinal infection a few months ago.

18 April 2021
Disco is as bright as a button this week. She is eating like a horse and has been on a sea swim which she enjoyed. Her determination to dive is ever present.

25 April 2021
Disco is doing really well and we are so happy she is feeling back to normal! For now we await an endoscope to allow us to investigate her buoyancy issues/lung tear.

2 May 2021
Disco is doing really well; very bright, active and feisty. She is eating much better without spitting out, so that is making our lives a lot easier with a lot less tank cleaning! Current weight: 9.3kg

9 May 2021
Disco continues to do really well, she is very bright and alert, very keen eater and very active!

16 May 2021
Disco continues to be bright and active, gaining weight well and eating a lot better with much less spitting out!

22 May 2021
Disco is a champ as always, always giving it her best shot and trying to dive. She is bright, active and hungry!

30 May 2021
Disco is doing really well but, sad to say, she seems even more buoyant than usual recently. She has a permanently open lung tear so it is possible it could worsen after being fairly stable. She remains bright and active and eating well though.

6 June 2021
Disco is lovely and bright and active as always! Eating well and not even as messily – which is always nice for the Rescue Centre staff!

13 June 2021
Disco is super bright and steadily gaining weight, so she is getting on well.

20 June 2021
Disco is doing great, such a trooper as always with her keenness to dive and swim.

27 June 2021
Disco is doing really well this week! She has a number of fans at the Rescue Centre who come to visit her every day; she really is a wonderful and charismatic turtle, and everyone who meets her is so impressed at her dedication to trying to dive. She has truly never given up! 

4 July 2021
Disco is doing wonderfully well. She had a lot of fans at the Centre this week who were impressed with her unending strong will and desire to dive.

11 July 2021
Disco is absolutely full of beans recently, not that picky with her food either compared to previous times (although still as messy). 

18 July 2021
Disco is doing great this week. She is eating really well with minimal spitting out and continues to gain weight, so we are very happy with her. She continues to have an incredible level of motivation to dive, despite the difficulty she has doing it.

25 July 2021
Disco is doing really well, she is bright and very active and hardly spits out any of her food now – which is amazing progress!

1 August 2021
Disco is doing great, full of energy and eating very well. We will try and take her out to swim next week to stretch her flippers.

8 August 2021
Disco is eating like a champion and she is bright active and acting full of beans. 

26 August 2021
We removed some air from Disco’s coelom, but unfortunately she had a prolonged recovery from the anaesthesia. She is doing okay now, but still buoyant unfortunately.

7 September 2021
Disco is still very buoyant and when Dr Minnie returns we will attempt to use the endoscope inside her lungs to assess the level of damage. Otherwise she is eating well and we will take her for a sea swim this week.  

12 September 2021
Disco is still very buoyant but active and enjoyed her sea swim this week where she tried chasing Dr. Claire around in the shallows.

20 September 2021
No improvement on Disco’s buoyancy. However, she remains charming and loves her food and we still hope that when we are able to diagnose the lung damage with our new endoscope, we may also be able to decipher a way of treating her severe buoyancy problem.

27 September 2021
Disco is in good spirits,this week. Food orientated as always and really bright.

4 October 2021
Disco continues to do really well. She is bright and active and food driven (as always)! 

10 October 2021
Disco had a slightly off-week this week with a few days where she didn’t eat. She had a repeat blood sample which was all normal, and then she started to pick up by herself anyway! We aren’t quite sure what got her down, but thankfully it doesn’t seem to be continuing. We will monitor her closely.

18 October 2021
Disco has been more herself this week, much more active and eating more normally with less mess. She will be having a repeat blood sample this week to ensure she isn’t showing any brewing signs of infection.

24 October 2021
Disco has been back on good form this week, eating well and being fairly active. She is still exceedingly messy, but as long as she eats, we can manage!

31 October 2021
Disco is very bright and active and hungry at the moment – which is good!

8 November 2021
Disco has been having slightly off days this week, sometimes having a great appetite and other times a little off her food. This isn’t necessarily unusual for her though, so we will keep a close eye and try some of her favourite foods.

15 November 2021
Disco is in rude health, very active and bright, although as always her appetite is all over the place! Sometimes she can’t be filled, other times she isn’t interested, but that’s just what we have come to expect from Disco. That and messiness.

21 November 2021
Disco had a bit of a slow week and was slightly fussy with her food, but then towards the end of the week she figured it out again and made up for lost time! She is bright and active and back to feeling herself. She had repeated blood tests to confirm everything was normal and it’s all looking good.

28 November 2021
Disco is very bright and active this week, eating everything offered and with minimal mess! Which is amazing for the Rescue Centre team! She has been in a bigger tank as well this week, which is obviously nice for her.

5 December 2021
Disco has had a slow start to the week, not showing any interest in food for the first few days but is now back to her normal self. She has been moved to a medium tank now that Tibby has moved to another resort, and that seems to have perked her up. She is active and very speedy!

12 December 2021
Disco has been back to her normal self again, eating a lot and making a mess as always! She continues to delight guests at the rescue centre by being exceptionally cute, determined and motivated!

19 December 2021
Disco is having a great week, being very active and eating without making hardly any mess! She has been moved to a bigger tank which she is enjoying.

26 December 2021
Disco had one of her signature no food moments right at the beginning of the week but it was short lived; she was eventually eating like a horse again with minimal spitting out! We will try and get her out on a sea swim this week to stretch her flippers!

2 January 2022
Discovery has been having a good week, a great appetite and is very keen to chase the food round!

9 January 2022
Disco did really well on a sea swim this week. The water conditions were just perfect so she was able to see lots of things on the reef. As always, her motivation to try and dive is second to none and she was putting in some great effort as she swam around the island!

16 January 2022
Disco is getting on very well as usual! She has had an intermittent appetite this week but overall it’s not too bad by Disco’s standards!

23 January 2022
Disco is in good spirits with a good appetite and trying to dive as always!

30 January 2022
Disco is having a great week, maintaining her healthy weight, and eating well – and she is nice and active. 

6 February 2022
Disco is very active and bright this week and she is eating all her food pretty well. We haven’t had a chance to take her out swimming yet but we hope to do so soon.

13 February 2022
Disco is back to eating messily this week, as she always does if there is even a tiny change in the fish available! But she still has a great appetite and is otherwise well.

20 February 2022
Disco is doing great; always continuing to be her best self by trying to dive. Always eating well, just messily!

6 March 2022
Disco is doing really well, eating like a horse at the moment and making minimal mess – which is always a win for the Rescue Centre team! She had to temporarily share a tank with a divider across and we think her tank mate might have tried to bite her face, as she has a little scratch near her eye. However it doesn’t seem to have bothered her and she is healing fine.

13 March 2022
Disco is her usual active and bright self. Her little head wound from a small run in with Leonardo through the divider has healed up quickly. She continues to eat well and is always giving it her all with trying to dive.

20 March 2022
Disco is still doing great. Her appetite can be intermittent depending on the freshness of the fish (she is a little madam!) but we have taken to feeding her once a day and this is working wonders for keeping her interested and motivated.

27 March 2022
Disco is doing really well, is bright, active and alert. Plus she’s eating pretty well at the moment too, much less mess than normal!

3 April 2022
Disco is doing really well; bright, active and hungry! A Visiting Veterinarian with expertise in endoscopy arrived this week, so we are going to investigate her buoyancy issues in the coming weeks. We can only hope there is something we can do to resolve her open lung tear.

10 April 2022
Disco is as bright as a button and very well in herself. We are going to be doing a procedure on her next week with the endoscope to investigate her buoyancy issues and see what we can do for her.

13 April 2022
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our much loved Disco today. Disco’s buoyancy worsened progressively over the last year to the point where she was consistently lop sided and also very puffed out with air. Multiple attempts to drain it off resulted in a temporary solution but quickly her body filled back up again when she breathed, meaning she had an open lung tear.

With the generous help of Disco’s adoptive parents and our donors, we were able to purchase an endoscope, particularly done with Disco in mind. This is a flexible camera that we can insert into their body cavities and visualise their internal organs in a non invasive way.

Finally, today, we were able to anaesthathise her and perform an endoscopic assessment with the help of our Visiting Vet, Dr Sonya. Unfortunately, we were shocked by what we saw. She had damage to more than 70% of each lung with many solid areas, scarred areas and hyperinflated areas. We haven’t seen such significant damage in any of our patients before. She also had a very abnormal and damaged liver. We could see from all of this that there was no way she would ever regain her buoyancy or be able to be released. Due to the compromised lungs, her anaesthetic became challenging, and the decision was made amongst the veterinary team to not resucitate her. She passed away without any pain or stress.

Although we are devastated at her loss, we know ultimately this was the best thing for her and her welfare, and we know we did our absolute best for her at all points. She was such a determined turtle but it goes to show just how devastating ghost gear injuries are, that they can lead to such significant damage of their internal organs too.

Thank you for all your support of Discovery over the years. We know she captured yours hearts very easily, as she did ours.