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Turtle Patient 144: Sunan, Adult Male Olive Ridley

Turtle patient Sunan, ghost net victim, in the rescue centre tank. Image.

Sunan was found entangled in a large ghost net along with Maadhu in North Malé Atoll by staff from Coco Bodu Hithi Resort.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 12 March 2021
Patient Number: 144
Rescue Location: North Malé Atoll
Reason: Found entangled, missing flipper
Transport Method: Seaplane
Status: Current patient

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Male
Age: Adult
Length: 61 cm
Weight: 22.8 kg

Sunan has been very kindly adopted by Wilhelmine and Frank Kmiotek, for Judy and Ruf by Paul, by Sarah O Sullivan, Ashley and Alaina Lynn, and by Jill Reed.

Sunan’s Story

Sunan and Maadhu were severely entangled in the ghost net and would never have been able to free themselves. Sunan (named for one of his rescuers) has only a bone sticking out where his left flipper used to be, and very painful sloughing tissue around his back legs. After they were both freed, Sunan and Maadhu were sent to ORP’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at One & Only Reethi Rah by boat. They spent the night there before being taken by seaplane to the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre the next day. Sunan and Maadhu had to travel on separate sea planes as they were too heavy to go on the same flight! Thank you TMA for flying them to us and the Coco Bodu Hithi team for rescuing them.

We expect Sunan to make a full recovery after surgery.

22 March 2021
Sunan had his surgery on Tuesday to both amputate his exposed left humeral bone and also to clean up his very severe skin wounds on his plastron-skin margin. He has been a little quiet, but he is likely quite uncomfortable. We are making sure he has pain relief and are encouraging him to eat. 

29 March 2021
Sunan is doing well, but is a little quieter and slower than his tank mate Maadhu. As such, he hasn’t been eating as much as she should, because Maadhu steals his food! We have therefore separated them so that they can both get what they need. Sunan’s amputation is healing ok, but the tension on the wound has resulted in some areas opening up. We are managing those as open wounds. We also discovered that some of his scutes around the back end were infected and damaged. As a result, we have removed them and are cleaning them carefully every 2 days. Thankfully, they had already started to heal by the time the abnormal tissue became obvious so everything looks to be improving.

4 April 2021
Sunan is doing much better this week, after he was moved to a tank on his own. Although he and Maadhu never fought or showed aggression towards one another while they were sharing, it turns out Sunan is just a solo kind of guy and has a much better appetite when Maadhu isn’t around to steal it from under his nose! Sunan’s wounds are all healing well but still require regular wound care every 2-3 days. Thankfully we’re confident they will all heal well in the coming months.

18 April 2021
Sunan has been doing really well in terms of the plastron wounds and amputation site, but unfortunately we noticed during one of his wound care exams that he had quite a swollen wrist on his remaining right flipper. We took an x-ray and our suspicions of a bone infection were confirmed. This has likely come about as a result of spread from his severely infected left flipper. He will need a longer course of antibiotics, and also antifungals, to get on top of it. He will be having x-rays and blood samples every 2 weeks to monitor his progress. It’s unfortunate, as otherwise he was getting ready for release. Thankfully he is using his flipper as if nothing is wrong, still diving and swimming well, so he doesn’t seem too put out by it.

25 April 2021
Sunan is ticking along, still receiving treatment for his wrist infection, however, he is very bad at taking tablets and it’s a struggle to get it all in! He will have repeat bloods and x-rays next week and if there is not much improvement to the bones of his wrist, he may need different types of medication.

2 May 2021
Sunan’s wrist is still quite swollen and, although he mostly uses it well, he does find it a little harder to dive down as he can’t use it 100%. He had x-rays this week which show almost no change. This is good, because it isn’t getting worse, but bad because there is no signs of improvement. We will be changing his medications to try and tackle it. He remains in good spirits though!

9 May 2021
Sunan has had a good week. He has really brightened up, is a lot more active, and is consistently eating much more. This makes him easier to medicate which means we are able to actually give him his treatment for his wrist infection. We will re-xray him next week to assess his progress.

16 May 2021
Sunan has been really bright and well this week, using his flipper very normally and swimming around very well so we are seeing clinical signs of improvement that indicate the medication is working. He had an x-ray on Saturday and it showed about the same as the previous 2 x-rays. 

22 May 2021
Sunan continues to show good clinical signs of improvement, using his flipper normally and being active and eating well. He remains on 2 different medications to try and get on top of his wrist infection. 

30 May 2021
Sunan is really bright and well, swimming very well. His wrist is still quite swollen, but clinically we have excellent progress. He is due another x-ray next Wednesday and, hopefully, we can see that we are making progress with halting the abnormal changes in his joint.

6 June 2021
Sunan is as bright as a button and swimming well with his affected flipper. He had another x-ray which showed that the infection seems to be slowing down. He needs a little more time though so will have another x-ray in 2 weeks time.

13 June 2021
Sunan is absolutely full of beans and has full range of motion in his remaining flipper. Although he is still not completely recovered from his wrist infection, his x-rays have been looking pretty good, so we are confident no more damage is occurring and will be ready to release him soon!

20 June 2021
Sunan is doing really well; he is bright and active, using his flipper really well and eating incredibly well. He will be having his final x-ray next week to confirm that his joint is stable, then he will have 2 weeks of monitoring, and, if everything remains good, then he will be ready to go home!

27 June 2021
Sunan has now been off all medication for a week and his flipper usage seems to be really good. We will x-ray him at the end of next week and, if there has been no deterioration to the wrist on x-ray, we will release him!

4 July 2021
Sunan had his final x-rays and has been cleared for release! He will be ready to go home on Tuesday 6th July after nearly 4 months at the Rescue Centre!

6 July 2021
Sunan was a perfect patient; mild mannered with a great appetite! He swam away easily and quickly into the deep and we couldn’t be more thrilled.