Turtle Patient 203: Handhuvaru, Adult Female Olive Ridley

Turtle patient Handhuvaru recovering in the tank at the rescue centre. Image.

Handhuvaru was found floating and very depressed by guests at the Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands Resort in North Malé Atoll.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 29 January 2023
Patient Number: 203
Rescue Location: North Malé Atoll
Reason: Found floating with head injury
Transport Method: Seaplane & Speedboat
Status: Deceased 29 January 2023

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Female
Age: Adult
Length: 67.4 cm
Weight: 28.9 kg

The Adoptive Parents

Handhuvaru has kindly been adopted by Michelle Bernard, Kyle Kehoe and friends, Kris Zimmermann, Sharon & Graham Jacobs, for Miss Arden & Miss Scarlett by Michelle Bernard, for Mrs. Colucci’s Class by Kelly Colucci, for Mi by Lina Novén, and for Miss Eloise by Michelle Bernard.

Handhuvaru’s Story

Handhuvaru, meaning “moonlight” in Dhivehi, was admitted with a severe head injury wich has resulted in various skull fractures. She also has a deep impact injury to the top of her shell, which luckily is already healing. Overall, her injuries are consistent with a boat strike.

Handhuvaru arrived in a critical state and needed to be kept out of the water for the first couple of days until she became more active. We have given her intensive therapy, including fluids, pain relief and antibiotics. Her X-rays showed that her lungs and flippers are OK. Once she is more stable, she will be perform surgery to remove bone fragments from her head.

12 February 2023
Handhuvaru is now more responsive, in a tank with full water, breathing well on her own and starting to move a bit more around the tank. This last week we have performed a surgery on her head to remove all bone fragments and infected material from her skull to allow for it to start healing and it went really well.

Handhuvaru is still not eating so we will be keeping close monitoring on that to decide the next steps of her therapy accordingly. For now we are doing regular wound cleaning and she is on antibiotics, fluid therapy and strong pain relief. We are taking it day by day and rooting for her!

12 March 2023
Handhuvaru has been slowly but steadily improving. The wound on her head is healing nicely and her front flippers are now acquiring a much more normal position (initially she would keep them very tightly tucked under her body). We started Handhuvaru on an appetite stimulant and hope it will motivate her to eat more consistently. Her blood work also shows marked improvements, and we are getting her infection under control.

23 March 2023
Handhuvaru has been making good and steady improvements. Her head injury is almost fully healed and she has been a lot more active in her tank, particularly in the early mornings. Despite being on an appetite stimulant therapy, Handhuvaru was still not eating properly. We therefore decided to place an oesophageal tube to ensure she gets proper nutritional support. The procedure went well and Handhuvaru is tolerating the tube – hopefully this will speed up her recovery!

29 March 2023
Unfortunately, Handhuvaru’s overall condition deteriorated rapidly rather than improve. Over the course of the week, the infection spread throughout her body and she did not survive despite our best efforts. On her postmortem examination, we found maturing follicles (eggs) which means she was an adult female.