Turtle Patient 127: Xena, Sub-Adult Female Olive Ridley

Turtle patinet Xena coming up for air. ORP Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.
Xena coming up for air.

Xena was found in October 2019 in Lhaviyani Atoll, floating upside down and missing her left front flipper. She was initially cared for at Atoll Marine Centre, but was moved to us for medical care when she suddenly started deteriorating.

The Vitals

Intake Date: 1 November 2020
Patient Number: 127
Rescue Location: Lhaviyani Atoll
Reason: Debilitated, losing weight
Transport Method: Seaplane
Status: Released from Atoll Marine Centre 20 June 2022

Species: Olive ridley
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Sex: Female
Age: Sub-Adult
Length: 60 cm
Weight: 14.45 kg

The Adoptive Parents

Xena has kindly been adopted by Matthew, by Athena, GO Nautica & Turtlee Green, for Matthew, for Andy by Katrina Denyer, by Reeves, for Isabell by Thomas Brockhausen, for Xenia by Petra, by Marina Libro, for Sarah by Dana Cerone, by Carolyn Pitman, for Alina by Carroll Lockett, by Pavel Jurisica & Petr Liko, for Nicole by Dajana, by Paul, Lauren Salter, Pleun Bo Wolters, Grégory & Noémie, Sabrina, Nicki Di Mambro, Barbara Vassalli, for Fabio by Carolina, for Sabine & Gregor by Andrea, by Ines, for Steven by Stacey, for Lena & Benjamin by Mama & Michi, by Maddi Paull, Jenny and Nicola Manser, Christian Heinen, Leonard Küper, and by Oliver Reinsch.

Xena’s Story

Xena arrived at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre after a journeying on two sea planes and a speed boat! She has been rehabilitating at Atoll Marine Centre since late 2019, but recently started deteriorating. She refused food, started to lose weight and showed signs of shifting buoyancy issues. She was transferred to the Rescue Centre so we can provide the veterinary care she needs.

On her first day she refused fish but did eat 2 crabs quite vigorously, so that is encouraging. She will have a full diagnostic workup, inlcuding x-rays and ultrasound, plus faecal analysis. Her initial blood sample was encouraging – no signs of anaemia but we still need to manually assess her cells under the microscope.

8 November 2020
Xena has been very up and down since her arrival. She ate very well initially, but then has been very lethargic the rest of the week. We took x-rays and an ultrasound, and there is evidence of a bone infection that has likely spread body wide. We started her on antibiotics and fluids, and we are monitoring her very closely, but we still have a way to go.

13 November 2020
After a really tough last week and start of this week, where she spent a lot of time being very unresponsive, Xena has started to pick up a lot. She now comes over to greet us, and she is a bit keener on food, although still spitting things out intermittently. Not crabs though! So we have been out at night getting crabs for her and will continue to do so for as long as needed.

23 November 2020
Xena is on a crab only diet at the moment but she is eating them very well, having 6-8 crabs a night. She is noticeably more active in her tank. She is on injectable antibiotics every 72 hours. 

30 November 2020
Xena still on crab only diet, about 6-8 a night, but she eats them keenly and generally has maintained a good activity level. She will be having repeat bloods and ultrasounds beginning of next week.

7 December 2020
Xena was very excited for crabs this week, more keen than normal! On Wednesday she was a whole new turtle! Trying to dive for the crabs and everything. Then towards the end of the week she started eating fish and a lot of it so this is amazing news. We are really happy to see she is feeling more herself. She still has a way to go but Dr Minnie is encouraged. 

13 December 2020
Xena has been the focus of most of this week! She had 2 incredible days in a row where she was active and ate a lot, then she had a really down day. We repeated her x-rays, blood work and ultrasound. She has an abnormal fluid pocket around her oesophagus, which we’ve taken a sample of and will eventually drain all of, but at the moment it is unclear what it is. Towards the end of the week she picked up though, eating 490g of tuna on Saturday! She is still a little up and down, but the trend is definitely up so we are happy with her progress. However, we need to get to the bottom of her fluid build up. 

28 December 2020
Xena had such an amazing week – so active and normal looking! She ate consistently every single day right up until the 27th when we had to move her to the big tank with Disco (with a divider) due to stagnant water issues. Unfortunately, we think she is quite stressed by this as she doesn’t want to eat and has been trying to bite Disco through the barrier. We are going to get her back in her own tank today and hopefully she will continue to improve and improve.

11 January 2021
Xena continues her amazing streak of eating like a champion. She is eating around 500-600g a day now – which is amazing. She is still on antibiotics for her bone and lung infection, but she seems to be going from strength to strength and soon it will be time for a sea swim! We wanted to take her this week but it got very busy.

17 January 2021
Xena is quickly becoming a very reliable eater, something we never thought we would be able to say about her! She is eating bowls and bowls a day, always bright and active now. She has also been enjoying her move to one half of the big tank, allowing her to attempt diving. We will get her out on a sea swim asap.

24 January 2021
Xena had her first ever sea swim this week! She got started immediately, no delay at all once her plastron hit the sea! She tried to dive the whole time but unfortunately her buoyancy is a problem. She continues to eat voraciously and now weighs 16.5kg. We are aiming for at least 20kg so she is doing great! She has been off antibiotics for a week and a bit now, her only medication is good food!

31 January 2021
Xena has been doing really well. She now weighs 17.2kg after arriving here at 13.5kg. She is eating like a horse and is very active. We took her on a sea swim on Sunday but unfortunately there were too many people and she was swimming in the wrong direction a lot that we ended up aborting it. We will take her somewhere different next time.

7 February 2021
Xena is still doing really well and is bright and active. She is trying to dive a lot in the tank but, unfortunately, she is still pretty buoyant. She is gaining weight well and we will be taking her on more swims to try and get this floating issue sorted now that she is feeling so much better!

23 February 2021
Xena had to share her big tank with Harry one night and it put her right off eating! Thankfully, once she was moved back on her own, she started eating like a horse again. She is up to 18.2 kg and constantly active.

7 March 2021
Xena continues to gain weight, be very active and bright, and is trying her very best to dive. However, her buoyancy is still a significant issue. 

15 March 2021
Xena was so bright, active, well and gaining significant amounts of weight that she has been transferred to the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at our partner resort One & Only Reethi Rah in North Malé Atoll, where she will be under the care of our Sea Turtle Biologist, Rosie. There she will be able to have more space to practice her diving – which she will really relish! Plus she heard that when Azura was there, they gave her lobster so she’s pretty keen to find out if the rumours are true…

29 March 2021
Xena has settled in really well at One & Only and our Sea Turtle Biologist, Rosie, was thrilled to see a familiar face when she arrived! Unfortunately the journey was quite stressful for her and she did manage to scrape one of her top facial scutes off, but we are hoping this will heal quickly. She seems to be enjoying the extra space and has been eating extremely well – no lobster just yet but she is taking full advantage of the shrimp!

Now that Xena has had some time to settle in, she will be taken on weekly sea swims to practice her diving and fingers crossed she will be one step closer to release.

18 April 2021
Xena has been gaining weight and is making good use of her space in the big tank. She will soon be starting consistent weight belt therapy and sea swims to try and get her buoyancy sorted.

9 May 2021
Xena is doing well. She enjoys a meal of 400 gr of squid, tuna, crab and shrimp everyday and her weight has stabilized at nearly 20kg!

6 June 2021
Xena had her first sea swim after relocating to the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre this week! She started of slow, but quickly found her rhythm in the water, gently swimming with the currents. We hope that she will quickly become more comfortable and start attempting to dive soon!

13 June 2021
Xena is now a steady 18kg but, unfortunately, she is refusing food every few days. She also looks like she has got an infection in her working front flipper, under the instructions of our veterinarian team, we will be starting a course of antibiotics to treat this. We hope she will be feeling better eating lots of crabs soon!

20 June 2021
Thankfully, Xena seems to be responding well to the antibiotics, eating more food and beginning to use her front flipper a bit more, but only time will tell if she will fully recover.

27 June 2021
Xena is still on antibiotics and eating every now and then. We hope soon she will begin to be more active and eat more.

4 July 2021
Xena is starting to eat more and use her infected flipper to swim again. This is a great sign but she still has a long way to go.

25 July 2021
Xena continues to improve on her medication, swimming more and more each day. She has now become strong enough to start weight therapy in the tank. This is where we attach a weight belt to her to aid her with her buoyancy issues. Hopefully soon she will be ready to restart sea swims.

1 August 2021
Xena continues to get better and is attempting to dive more and more each week. She is eating well and we are slowly increasing the weight in her weight training therapy. She will start to go for sea swims as soon as the veterinary team think she is strong enough.

8 August 2021
Xena is not making the progress we hoped. She has been very slow and lethargic this week, only eating a few times. We are starting her on new medication soon to help her get better.

15 August 2021
Xena continues to undergo treatment of both antibiotics and antifungal medication. She was visited by Dr. Minnie this week who has decided that Xena will need to return to the Rescue Centre to receive x-rays and blood tests to see why she is not showing the improvements we were hoping to see this far into the medication. 

26 August 2021
Xena continues to be active and eat well but still has a lot of issues with her buoyancy. She is soon to head back to the Rescue Centre where Dr. Claire will use the new endoscope to check on the conditions of her lungs.

6 September 2021
Xena has been very active this week with some attempts to dive as well – which is great to see. She has been eating lots and will start sea swims again soon. Dr. Claire will be running some tests on Xena later this week when she visits the Rescue Centre.

12 September 2021
Xena returned back from the Rescue Centre at One & Only Reethi Rah to have blood tests and x-rays to determine how her recovery is progressing. She is lively, eating lots of fish and even attempted to dive on her sea swim which is great to see!

20 September 2021
Xena’s veterinary check-up went well. She has been less buoyant in the tanks and even managed to dive really well on her sea swim! We’re hoping to see a continuous improvement in time.

27 September 2021
Xena has settled back into the Rescue Centre. She is even enjoying all her food, which is great news. She will be having bloods tests next week to get a better baseline of her health.

4 October 2021
Xena had a blood test this week and being out of water really stressed her out, resulting in a day of not eating. Otherwise she has been in good spirits, bright and active and eating well. She will be having follow up x-rays later this week.

10 October 2021
Xena has had a good week in that she is eating well and is fairly active. She hasn’t been swimming yet as she’s not 100%, but we are happy that she seems brighter in herself. She will be having some more x-rays soon to check on the status of her bone infection.

18 October 2021
Xena has been quite subdued this week but she is still maintaining a great appetite. We know she is struggling long term from chronic bone infections, but at this stage her x-rays are quite stable. We will be regularly reassessing and monitoring her. 

24 October 2021
Xena is still a little subdued but her appetite remains very good and we cannot at this time find anything of major concern. She did become very active when she temporarily shared the same tank with Tibby; she made it her life’s mission to try and bite her! We will try and take her out for sea swims soon to assess her movements.

31 October 2021
Xena is still a bit quiet but she is very keen to eat all the time – so that is great news! We continue to monitor her closely. Unfortunately her buoyancy issues haven’t changed.

8 November 2021
Xena is still eating very well and is enjoying a variety of fish now and not just tuna belly! She has reached nearly 20kg which is great; when she arrived exactly this time last year, she was only 13.2kg and completely emaciated. 

15 November 2021
Xena is the star patient of the week and has absolutely blown us all away! After spending 2 years in rehabilitation, 1 year at the Atoll Marine Centre in Lhaviyani Atoll and 1 year with us, she finally started diving! It was truly amazing to watch, and she managed to figure a lot of it out in only one day! We feared Xena would never dive because of her significant lung damage visible on x-ray, but she has proved us wrong. She will need some more time to cement this, but with some sea swims and regular training, we think she will actually now be releasable!

21 November 2021
After her incredible performance diving last week, we noticed in the last day or so that she doesn’t seem to be using her flipper as much. We took her on a sea swim to confirm if it was behavioural or likely due to pain, and, unfortunately, it seems it is likely due to pain. She has previously suffered with bone infections (especially her elbow), and although that has now been treated and is stable as seen on x-ray, we are worried she has potentially now developed a shoulder issue. Initial x-rays yesterday were slightly inconclusive due to the overlay of her shell, so we will be re-taking x-rays in a few days. Unfortunately Xena finds it incredibly stressful so we have to stagger things quite carefully. It is a bit of a set-back but now we know she can do it, so we are more hopeful for her recovery overall, even if she has to wait a little longer to return to the sea!

28 November 2021
Xena has improved this week and is using her flipper more. She has been started on another course of medication to get on top of her flipper problem and it already seems to be making a difference. It will be a few weeks yet but now that she’s able to dive, once her flipper is better, we know she will be releasable which is very exciting!

5 December 2021
Xena has had a really good week. Her flipper is much better and she is using it a lot more now which equals a lot more dive attempts and activity! We are really pleased with her progress despite the setback of another bone infection. When she finishes that course in around 6 weeks, we will be able to release her.

12 December 2021
Xena has now been on her new medication for a few weeks and it seems to be doing the trick! Her flipper usage is so much better and she is putting in some excellent performances in the morning when personal trainer Ni (our Rescue Centre intern) is on the case! She can fully submerge herself regularly and we just need to wait until her medication course is finished before we can get her back out in her ocean home!

19 December 2021
Xena is doing brilliantly. Our intern, Ni, is an excellent personal trainer and keeps Xena working very hard at diving every feeding time. Her flipper usage is almost back to normal now since starting her medication 3 weeks ago. We are therefore very hopeful that, once she is finished in another 3 weeks or so, we can start to take her out swimming and assess her viability for release in the near future!

26 December 2021
Xena is back in the big tank and is having intensive daily dive training. She had to be scrubbed and have her vitamins this week which really put her off trying for a day, but she was soon back on it and doing really well. We haven’t seen any massive dives from her for a while, but her daily progress is good and once she has finished her course of medication towards the end of January, we will be able to take her out on a sea swim and assess how she does!

2 January 2022
Xena has been going from strength to strength this week! Her appetite is excellent and she is consistently putting in lots of effort to dive for her food. She has even been seen to do a dive on her own in the tank again when there was no food involved! Her antifungals are due to finish on 15th January, at which point we will take another x-ray of her to ensure everything is looking good with her flipper. If all is good we will start sea swimming with the intention of building her back up for release!

9 January 2022
Xena had quite a set back this week with a total reduction in her flipper usage. We think this is from having put in such amazing performances in diving the few days prior – maybe she overdid it. She had repeat x-rays and we are still a little suspicious that there is some kind of fragment within her joint capsule that is intermittently causing her significant discomfort and that it isn’t just the bone infection to blame. We will be sending the x-rays to another vet to get a second opinion as it is challenging to see.

16 January 2022
Xena has had a better week this week. Her flipper movement is a bit better but unfortunately she hasn’t had the same amount of space to move and practice as before as her big tank has been divided into 4 with all our new arrivals!

23 January 2022
Xena still hasn’t got much space to practice her moves these days, but she is using her flipper better than before. She is still on her antifungal medication and we are still hopeful that we can release her at some stage, but this is a bit of a setback.

30 January 2022
Xena is definitely using her flipper more this week and this is great news. But she doesn’t have as much space to practice now that we have so many patients! We are hoping to take her out on a sea swim to see what she can do.

7 February 2022
Xena has been very active in her half of the tank; we can constantly hear her splashing around trying to dive but not quite having the space. Her flipper usage seems almost back to normal but we haven’t had a chance to get her out swimming and to see how she does in the wild. We hope to do so next week. She is now off all medication.

13 February 2022
Xena had been a little cooped up these last few weeks so we wanted to give her a chance to get out and stretch her flippers. We went on a lovely sea swim on Friday, which gave her plenty of opportunity to practice diving. We are pleased to say she did it really well. Although she has been having intermittent issues with her shoulder, she demonstrated completely normal function while out swimming, and was able to dive with increasing ease. We are monitoring her closely now post swim to see if there is any associated reduction in the use of her shoulder following all that exertion, but so far so good! She is eating vigorously as always!

20 February 2022
Xena was moved to a large tank towards the end of this week and it is serving her well. She seems to have maintained good flipper usage following her sea swims, which is a good sign, but we need to take her out swimming again before we can confirm for sure that she is still able to maintain a normal level of function. She is eating very well!

6 March 2022
Xena went on a sea swim on the 26th of February and even though it was very choppy she did very well! She is doing better and better these days, and is consistently sitting much lower in the water. We are also very happy to report that her shoulder issue seems to have settled, and we haven’t seen any recurrence of her not using it – not even after the high exertion of three sea swims in the last few weeks. We are quietly confident that we can release her in the coming months.

13 March 2022
Xena had the most amazing week; she went for a sea swim and did her best ever dive, reaching approximately 25 metres for over 3 minutes! This is a far cry from where she was this time last year when she was so buoyant that she used to flip over when trying to dive for food. We are so impressed with her progress, and so happy to report that her shoulder remains normal now. It won’t be long before she is able to head back off into the deep!

20 March 2022
Xena went on another sea swim but it wasn’t quite as great a performance as last week; still, it’s always good to get practice in and have the space to move. We will keep trying! Her shoulder is still completely fine – which is the main thing. 

27 March 2022
Xena is now being offered her food exclusively on a weighted buoy which is forcing her to dive for it. She is easily distracted by people but if we hide away, she will often give it a good go! She isn’t quite as food motivated as we would like, but she is giving it a good shot most of the time.

3 April 2022
Xena is getting better at trying to dive for her food, although she still has lackluster moments! She went on a sea swim this week and did pretty well, although not her best performance. We continue to put her through her paces because we know she can do it!!

10 April 2022
Xena has had a bit of a slower week; she was a little quiet and not trying as hard to dive. We repeated her blood sample and X-rayed her flipper to ensure there had been no changes, which thankfully there hadn’t been, so we are going to monitor her closely and then consider transferring her to a different location where they have a sea cage that will help her sort out her diving once and for all. We are still overall very happy with her progress, and we know it won’t be long before we can get her back out into the ocean. Sadly not before Dr Minnie leaves, but turtles work to no schedule but their own!

24 April 2022
Xena hasn’t been diving much. We will continue to encourage diving during feeding time. We are considering relocating her to the Atoll Marine Center to take advantage of the sea cage that made such a difference for Zeo.

26 April 2022
Zena was transferred to Atoll Marine Centre today to see if she will do better in the sea cage. Xena is doing well at AMC.

20 June 2022
Xena finally overcome her buoyancy problems and was released today after nearly two months at the Atoll Marine Centre and three years in rehabilitation after being rescued from ghost net entanglement. Spending time in the sea cage certainly speed up her recovery process and we are very pleased that she has finally gone back home!