Turtle Patient 186: Pepe, Sub-Adult Olive Ridley

Close-up, turtle patient Pepe. Image.

Pepe is a sub-adult olive ridley who was rescued from a ghost net at Maayafushi Resort Ari Atoll on May 13, 2022.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 13 May 2022
Patient Number: 186
Rescue Location: Ari Atoll
Reason: Found entangled
Transport Method: Seaplane
Status: Transferred to Marine Savers 2 October 2022

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Unknown
Age: Sub-Adult
Length: 54.5 cm
Weight: 12.2 kg

The Adoptive Parents

Pepe has kindly been adopted by Nathalie Popovic, Jaja & Loulou Fadie Lemaire, Julia Fredrich, Sam, Kerstin & Harald Brucker, Michael Bradley, and by Amanda Meadows.

Pepe’s Story

Pepe was found in a ghost net that had entanglement at her front right flipper and neck. Upon arrival at the Rescue Centre, her flipper was hanging off her right shoulder by a 2 cm piece of soft tissue that could be easily trimmed off. This left behind an open wound at the stump with a small exposed bone of a radius of approximately 1.5 cm. Fortunately, the entanglement wound at her neck was superficial.

We have put Pepe on antibiotics and pain relief and we are planning to run some diagnostics this week to further investigate the stump and her health status. She started eating prawns on her second day with us.

22 May 2022
The exposed bone at Pepe’s right fore stump was trimmed off with local anesthesia under the supervision of Dr Max. She tolerated the procedure well and has been eating fine. She is still having some buoyancy issues, however.

29 May 2022
Pepe’s appetite has been slow but she does finish her food eventually. The middle of the wound bed at the right fore stump feels hard on touch; this is likely due to remnant exposed bones post-trimming last week. She is under monitoring for her buoyancy issue.

5 June 2022
Pepe has gradually started to eat well after we adjusted her diet plan. She has an infection in her right front flipper stump. We are taking special care to ensure tank hygiene and have increased the frequency of wound cleaning to stay on top of the infection.

12 June 2022
Pepe’s appetite has been great lately. Her carapace is submerged deeper in the water now and she is much more active than before. We even saw her attempting to dive! The parasites on her carapace are also gone.

19 June 2022
Pepe has been spending time in the small tank over the last week and has seen diving to the bottom for food. She is getting better at diving with each successful attempt. We will soon move her to the medium tank soon and watch for improvement in diving. She is otherwise eating very well, her wounds appeared to be healing fine too.

26 June 2022
Pepe was placed in the medium tank this week but she has made no attempts to dive yet. Her repeat X-rays showed no abnormality or deterioration, but an elevation in white blood cell count was detected in her recent blood-work. We will be making necessary changes in her treatment plan and monitor her progress closely. Her wounds are healing well.

3 July 2022
Pepe has not shown any progress in her diving in neither the medium nor the large tank. But she did show interest in diving when she was brought out for a swim this week! Although she did not dive successfully, she was swimming speedily and making significant efforts to dive. Her wounds are contracting and healing well.

10 July 2022
Pepe still hasn’t dived but she can submerge her carapace to get to her food during training at feeding times. We will monitor her diving and the progress of wound healing as she continues her course of antibiotics and fluid therapy.

17 July 2022
We repeated Pepe’s diagnostics this week: Her X-rays and blood test results show an overall improvement in the wound healing progress. We observed no abnormalities in her lungs, suggesting that her inability to dive might be caused by behavioral or stress factors.

24 July 2022
Pepe has shown some minor improvements when diving; she can almost fully submerge her carapace when encouraged to dive during feeding.

31 July 2022
Pepe has been placed in the large tank with Leonardo, separated by a divider. Both turtles curiously peek at each other in between the gaps of the divider. Pepe even intermittently tries to dive to reach out to Leonardo at the bottom!

7 August 2022
Pepe is showing significant improvement when using the buoy feeders, diving to a depth of approximately 20cm with her carapace completely submerged. We are extremely excited to see her improvement and are planning for regular sea swims once the rough weather improves.

14 August 2022
There has been no further improvement in Pepe’s diving since last week. She was brought out for a swim this week but did not seem to enjoy it very much – likely due to stress. She is otherwise eating well.

22 August 2022
Pepe continues to show interest in diving, especially during feeding time. She has been more active and is often seen attempting to dive without encouragement.

28 August 2022
Pepe’s seems to be really trying to dive this week, we are also using weighted buoys for feeding to encourage diving deeper and allowing her to practice without our assistance. She had a wound check also and everything is healing nicely.

4 September 2022
Unfortunately we have not been able to take Pepe out for his usual sea swims this week due to the bad weather we are experiencing. However, with brighter skies ahead, we hope we can take him out and encourage him to dive in a more natural environment. He is doing well with his dive training, and he has a great appetite.

11 September 2022
Pepe is finally showing some obvious improvement in diving! This week, she completely submerged her carapace for at least 10 seconds while she was being fed. She also has a great appetite and actively uses her buoy feeders too. The team brought her out for a sea swim this week and multiple diving attempts were observed during her swim! 

18 September 2022
Pepe did not seem to enjoy her sea swim this week and appeared stressed in the open ocean. There is no further improvement in diving when she is in the large tank; she can only dive and stay just under the water surface when encouraged with food during feeding time. We will continue to provide enrichment such as buoy feeders to encourage diving.

25 September 2022
Pepe’s improvement in diving has been more consistent lately; she is able to stay under the water surface with her carapace completely submerged for longer periods when encouraged with food. We will continue her regular training sessions and, hopefully, we will be able to release her soon.

2 October 2022
Since Pepe’s diving has improved so much, we decided to transfer her to the sea cage at Marine Savers at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. She was transferred to Marine Savers via two seaplane flights today. Pepe will benefit tremendously with sea cage training. Hopefully, she overcomes her buoyancy syndrome and gets released soon.

9 October 2022
Pepe has settled in very well at Marine Savers and does not seem too stressed. She has been interacting with lots of different enrichments and has been eating well. The team has just checked the sea cage over after the bad weather and aim to move her into it very soon.

16 October 2022
Pepe has been in the sea cage for approximately a week now and seems to be coping well with the change in environments. However, there has been no improvement in her buoyancy just yet.

30 October 2022
We have recently received great news from Marine Savers about Pepe: she has recently started diving in a sea cage! If she continues to dive consistently, she should be ready for a release very soon!!!