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Turtle Patient 151: Owen, Sub-Adult Hawksbill

Sea turtle patien Owen, hawksbill, in his tank at the ORP Rescue Centre. Image.

Owen was found floating near Mabinhura – a new resort in development in Lhaviyani Atoll. He was initially sent to our friends at Atoll Marine Centre, but it soon became apparent he needed veterinary attention and he was transferred to us.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 18 June 2021
Patient Number: 151
Rescue Location: LhaviyaniAtoll
Reason: Found floating
Transport Method: Speedboat
Status: Released 11 September 2021

Species: Hawksbill
Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata
Sex: Unknown
Age: Subadult
Length: 59.5 cm
Weight: 18.5 kg

Owen has kindly been adopted for Owen, by Scott, Jessica & Lucas, by Jeannine Zinsli & Markus Busenhart, and for Reiner by Daniela Quick.

Owen’s Story

Owen is a sub-adult hawksbill with a beautiful shell. On arrival, Owen had both blood samples and x-rays taken. The x-rays revealed that he had a small fish hook embedded in his right jaw. This was removed under sedation and he is recovering well. There is likely more going on than just the hook though, as he is also very weak and lethargic; we suspect he has eaten something toxic. However, he is eating by himself so we will be able to administer supportive drugs and give him the time he needs to improve.

27 June 2021
Owen has had a really good week. He is eating consistently twice a day about 30g of fish cut into little pieces that Dr Minnie has to individually hand feed him, but he’s definitely keen for it. He is a little more active and he is also passing more formed normal faeces, which is good, as it means everything is being processed normally and is passing through well. 

4 July 2021
Owen is making slow but steady progress. He doesn’t move much but he is consistently eating daily and passing more and more normal faeces, so everything seems to be moving through ok. We continue to monitor him closely.

11 July 2021
Owen has been upgraded to a medium tank this week, which he is loving. He is moving around a lot more and investigating everything we put in his tank to interest him, like bits of rock and dead coral. He has also started to eat his full amount of food from the tank floor and even actively pursue it! So no more 40 minute hand feeding – which Dr Minnie is happy about! It seems as if a parasite may have been responsible for his initial debilitation; we are working out how to source the medication we need to clear it from his system, although he is getting better with dedicated care. His progress overall has been fantastic and we are very happy with him.

18 July 2021
Owen is doing wonderfully; he is eating really well and is pretty active. We are trying to source his medication and get it brought here via one of our lovely volunteers, but we’ll see how we get on.

25 July 2021
Owen, unfortunately, has had a rough week and has stopped eating. He is acting the same in himself, and enjoys foraging through bits of rocks and coral that we leave him, but he lost interest in tuna. We will be repeating bloods and x-rays to try and identify if there are any new issues or if this is still maybe a parasite issue. We are still waiting on the medication he needs.

1 August 2021

Owen is still having a tough time – his parasite burden seems to have increased and this is making him feel a bit rough. He is still acting pretty normally in himself, and he passed some normal faeces this week, but he isn’t wanting any kind of food. We will try him with crabs and squid and if that doesn’t work, then he may need a feeding tube surgically inserted to take over his nutrition until we can get the medication he needs.

8 August 2021
Owen is not interested in fish this week, but he is very interested in crabs so, we have been feeding him crabs nightly. We are still awaiting the right medication to cure him of his issue.

26 August 2021
Owen has had his first dose of anti-fluke medication and will be getting his second round today. Unfortunately he has been off food recently and though he took the first round very well in crabs, he has not touched prawns of fish since. We will therefore be crab gathering this evening! Otherwise, he has been his usual self, hiding under the shade and remaining at the bottom of the tank. We will be doing regular faecal studies to monitor is parasitic load following his medication.

7 September 2021
Owen has started his anti-fluke medication and we struggled to get him to eat his food again with the second dose of medication. He seems very down in the tank and we believe the best option for him is to release him due to going off food and generally seeming more depressed in captivity. So we plan to release him this later this week.

11 September 2021
Owen was released today. He went off with no issues and dived straight down into the depths. His release video is on our Facebook and Instagram so go and check it out! We hope he will be happy and healthy with lots of room to swim.