ORP Turtle Patient Update Issue 3 | 2021

Last Updated: April 6, 2021


Cal – Arrived 4 March 2021, Released 6 April 2021

Turtle patient Cal, ghost gear victim, in his tank at the Rescue Centre. Image.

Cal was using his damaged right flipper very well and swimming like a normal turtle. We therefore decided to release him back into the big blue, as he will be better off in his natural environment. He had a big appetite and gained back a substantial amount of weight during his month at the Rescue Centre (he has rather underweight when he arrived) and his humerus bone was also healing very well. As he grows older, the scarring that is causing the swollen flipper will become less pronounced.

Cal was released today (6th April) and swam off very very fast – he was definitely ready to go back home!

Harry – Arrived 20 December 2020, Released 17 March 2021

Based on Harry’s amazing progress and normal turtle behaviour (resting on the bottom, swimming around, being very feisty when handled), the decision was made to remove his feeding tube. He did really well without it and we were able to successfully release him on 17 March. Once in the water, he did not hesitate; he dived straight down and swam towards the reef. A boat full of well-wishers saw him off. This is so exciting after he spent so long being so ill! (Click on the image to watch Harry’s release video.)

New Arrivals

Abba – Arrived 5 April 2021

Adult male olive ridley turtle baient Abba in his tank. Image.

Abba is our newest arrival. He was found entangled in a big ghost net not far from Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu where we are based. Abba is a very large adult male olive ridley turtle. Both his front flippers were severely entangled and he has a historic amputation to his back left flipper. This means that he has likely been entangled twice in his life.

Abba had a full assessment upon arrival and will be having x-rays to confirm the integrity of his front flipper bones and to clean up his wounds. He has some mild buoyancy issues, but all in all, despite the severity of his wounds, we are confident that he will make a full recovery.

Honu – Arrived 22 March 2021

Olive ridley ghost gear victim at ORP Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.

Honu, an adult female olive ridley, was rescued from a ghost net by staff from Kuredu Island Resort in Lhaviyani Atoll. She arrived at the Rescue Centre by sea plane and was given a full medical assessment by Dr Minnie and Dr Claire.

When Honu was found, she had a bit of rope with a bucket attached so tightly wound around her flipper that it had cut through her bone. Sadly, when the rescuers carefully lifted her out of the water, the remains of her flipper fell off. She is also suffering from mild buoyancy.

Honu did take a while to settle in. She was a bit stressed by the tank environment, giving herself some sore rub injuries to her nose which we are treating. She had surgery this week to remove the damaged end of her left flipper stump, and also to clean up her nose and repair a broken flipper bone on her right flipper. The surgery went really well. She woke up quickly and spent the night on a comfy padded bed until she went back in her tank the following morning. It’s very encouraging to see her trying to dive. She has already made significant progress since she arrived and is eating well, so we are confident it won’t be long before she overcomes her buoyancy issues and can be released!

Maadhu – Arrived 12 March 2021

Turtle patient Maadhu in the Rescue Centre tank

Maadhu, a sub-adult olive ridley, was found entangled in a large ghost net along with Sunan in North Malé Atoll by staff from Coco Bodu Hithi Resort. Maadhu and Sunan were severely entangled in the ghost net and would never have been able to free themselves. Maadhu (named for one of his rescuers) was entangled around his neck. He has has severe constriction wounds around his neck and front flippers, with similar damage around his back legs. The good news is that Maadhu thankfully has all 4 flippers (a rare occurrence)!

Maadhu had surgery to remove some damaged toes, which he recovered from really well. His amputation sites are healing well except for one bit where there is a bit of bone exposure. Digits are notoriously hard to heal, so this is not entirely unexpected. We will x-ray him again to see how this bone looks. We will then decide whether we can leave it to heal as an open wound or need to perform a revision surgery. He may be a little stumpy now on his right hind, but he is swimming fantastically and his flipper wounds are looking really good.

He is an excellent eater and generally very bright. In fact, he’s almost too bright for his tank mate, Sunan, who takes life at a slightly slower pace and so finds himself missing out on food as Maadhu plucks it right out of the water column in front of him!

Sunan – Arrived 12 March 2021

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

Sunan, an adult male olive ridley, was found entangled in a large ghost net along with Maadhu in North Malé Atoll by staff from Coco Bodu Hithi Resort. 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.

Sunan had surgery to both amputate his exposed left humeral bone and also to clean up his very severe skin wounds on his plastron-skin margin. He was a little quiet after the surgery, but was likely quite uncomfortable. We made sure he had pain relief and are encouraging him to eat.

Sunan is now 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. Although Maadhu and Sunan never fought or showed aggression to 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 amputation is healing ok, but the tension on the wound has resulted in some areas opening up. We are managing those as open wounds, doing wound care every 2-3 days. 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.


Rehendi – Arrived 3 March 2021, Deceased 19 March 2021


Unfortunately we were not able to save Rehendi, who passed away on March 19. We perform postmortems on all out patients to determine cause of death as far as possible. Rehendi’s postmortem was very illuminating. It turned out that she had very severe fungal pneumonia that had destroyed her whole left lung and turned it into a bulla (an air filled sac). It is really a testament to how strong and resilient sea turtles are – she had likely been sick for months and months, and was working with one destroyed and one severely compromised lung, yet she had very little outward signs of respiratory issues.

The Resident Patients

Thari – Arrived 4 March 2021

Turtle patient Thari in her tank, ORP Turtle Rescue Centre, Maldives. Image.

Thari is fast becoming a Rescue Centre favourite; she is unendingly feisty and active! She has been trying to dive this week, and on Friday made quite a good go of it, but unfortunately she is still fighting against a damaged lung, so it remains to be seen whether she can overcome that.

Amber – Arrived 2 March 2021

Turtle patient Amber recovering at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.

Amber is a little up and down. She is very bright and active in herself, and eating, but her buoyancy has actually worsened and she now sits higher in the water and lopsided. We have elected to anaesthetise her next week and remove some air from her while she is asleep, to see if we can help control the worsening of her condition.

Seaheart – Arrived 22 February 2021

Turtle patient Seaheart in his tank at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.

Seaheart had x-rays this week to monitor how all his flippers are healing; all of them still have exposed bone due to how deep the cuts were. Thankfully, all his bones look normal on the x-ray, so they’ve not been compromised by the prolonged healing phase. His wounds are looking great, filling in really really well, although, there is still a large defect around the bone that needs to fill in. We continue to clean and debride (remove the dead tissue) the wounds every few days, which he is not a fan of, but thankfully it is all worth it, as they look excellent. It will take a few more weeks to heal sufficiently to consider release, but we are really happy with his progress. He is also using his flipper completely normally now.

Xena – Arrived 1 November 2020

Turtle patient Zena at ORP Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives. Image.
Xena enjoying her new large tank.

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 is under the care of her old friend – our Sea Turtle Biologist, Rosie. Xena has settled in really well at One & Only, but unfortunately the journey was quite stressful for her and she did manage to scrape one of her top facial scutes off. We are hoping this will heal quickly. At One & Only she has more space to practice her diving – which she really relishes! 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…

Discovery – Arrived 7th February 2020

Turtle patient Disco in his tank. Image.

Disco is much better after a spate of GI infection. She is also back to her normal weight (although still has more to gain) and seems generally brighter in herself, being her active, hungry self. But of course, there is no change to her buoyancy.

Azura – Arrived 2nd April 2019

Turtle patient Azura in her tank. Image.

Azura had an amazing sea swim on the 23rd March, where she reached a depth of 8m for about 5 minutes. She looked very comfortable at that depth, and was foraging and generally looking good! She had 2 subsequent sea swims in the week and, unfortunately, didn’t replicate it. We are therefore lengthening the times between sea swims and trying to work out the perfect ratio of swims to rest days, as she is obviously very unfit and will need time to rest in between. We are confident she will continue to do well! Azura continues on her medication for her elbow.

Heidi – Arrived 21st April 2018

Dr Minnie giving Heidi spa treatment. Image.
Heidi enjoying his spa treatment

We are pursuing promising leads to find Heidi a new forever-home, which is amazing. In the meantime he has been out for a lovely sea swim and enjoyed his time gently browsing on the seafloor.