Turtle Patient 170: Hera, Adult Female Olive Ridley

Turtle patient Hera in her tank. Image.

Hera was found floating in Baa Atoll with both her carapace and plastron cracked. She was rescued by staff from Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort who took her straight to us by speedboat.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 10 January 2022
Patient Number: 170
Rescue Location: Baa Atoll
Reason: Found floating with a cracked shell
Transport Method: Speedboat
Status: Deceased 5 February 2022

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Female
Age: Adult
Length: 70 cm
Weight: kg

The Adoptive Parents

Hera has kindly been adopted for Raquel by Sabrina.

Hera’s Story

Hera was found floating with with both her carapace and plastron cracked. She is absolutely huge and quite active. She has given scrapes to most of our team while trying to carefully maneuver her giant body around! She has a very significant crack across her plastron, and it isn’t clear at this stage whether it communicates with her internal anatomy. She will need X-rays to assess for any internal damage and will need surgery to clean up that wound. She is very buoyant and at this stage the reason isn’t clear. We will be investigating further.

16 January 2022
Hera is much the same as on arrival. She is tolerating fluids and antibiotics well when we do them while still in the tank, and she is moderately active most of the day. She will be having her X-rays and further tests this week now that she has had a chance to settle in and adjust.

23 January 2022
Hera was sedated so we could clean her carapace and plastron wounds and take a full set of x-rays and a blood sample. She had 6 litres of air drained from the inside of her body, which initially made a significant difference to her buoyancy, but unfortunately she must still have an open lung tear as she re-filled completely with air after only an hour or so. Her plastron crack is very significant but thankfully doesn’t go through to her internal body cavity. She is stable but still our most critical patient.

30 January 2022
Hera is definitely more active this week, but is still not interested in eating anything. She is still incredibly buoyant which is probably why she isn’t feeling like eating; there is a lot of pressure on her insides. She recently developed a strange issue with her left flipper, where she is holding it straight down. This looks to be some kind of neuropathy (nerve issue) because we cannot detect any bone or joint reason for why she wouldn’t be able to use it. To combat some of the potential issues this could cause, we have attached pool floats to her flipper to keep it in a neutral position flat on the water surface. If she still won’t eat in the coming days, we will need to anaesthetise her to insert a feeding tube.

5 February 2022
Sadly, Hera continued to get weaker and weaker and her buoyancy was almost getting worse. Her left flipper was continually held dropped and seemed to bother her, while she still refused to eat. We anaesthetised her to clean her wounds again, remove some air and insert a feeding tube. Unfortunately, as we expected, she became very very deep under the anaesthetic and we elected to let her go, as she was suffering quite substantially. She was a lovely big female so it is such a shame, but she was also so excessively buoyant that we expect we would never be able to release her.