ORP Turtle Patient Update Issue 6|2019


Current patients: Heidi, Eve, Lynn, Artemis, Nemo, Moodhu Vina, Taloola, Azura, Florence, Joy, Faith and Elba

We continue to be very busy at the Rescue Centre. We have had fewer new arrivals, however, we currently have 12 resident patients. The Rescue Centre is built for a capacity of 8 patients. We are able to host all 12 due to the fact that 8 of our 12 patients are juvenile and quite small, so we can divide the tanks into smaller sections. Turtles are not generally very social and do not like to share tanks.

New Arrivals

Faith – Arrived 5th May 2019

Hawksbill turtle patient Faith at the ORP rescue centre Maldives

Faith is a critically endangered juvenile hawksbill turtle. She was rescued by Diamonds Athuruga Beach and Water Villas. Faith came in a near comatose state with a severely injured flipper. We also tested her blood and found that she had very few blood cells left.

A test called packed cell volume (pcv) measures the red blood cells; sea turtles should have a pcv of between 24 and 34. This little turtle had a pcv of just 3. This is incompatible with life in most species. With this little amount of blood she was still clinging to life with a badly injured flipper, most likely from a ghost net.

Due to her comatose state and lack of blood pressure we had to surgically catheterise her jugular vein to get venous access for the transfusion. We used Heidi, our only healthy adult turtle, as a blood donor. Heidi was very brave and got a big dinner as a thank you for helping save the life of the little hawksbill. Due to limited island resources we made our own transfusion kit and added anticoagulant to the donor blood to prevent it clotting before administration.

Faith is the first animal in Maldives to receive a blood transfusion. So far she is making improvements and she has regained her reflexes. However, she is still in a critical condition. We have also surgically placed a feeding tube into her stomach so we can give her food. If she makes it through and we can stabilise her, she will need a flipper amputation.

We have now tested her blood again and there is a good improvement after the blood transfusion: Her number of blood cells almost after the blood transfusion.This is great news and we are happy with the result, as you cannot transfuse large volumes of blood in sea turtles due to their kidneys. So to have doubled her PCV is a success and hopefully pushes her towards a less critical state. She still has a long road to recovery ahead of her, though.

Faith is still too weak to be in a tank. Instead she is resting in a shady padded area on iv fluids, antibiotics and now liquid critical care food multiple times a day.

Elba – Arrived 6th May 2019

Olive ridley turtle Elba swallowed fishing net during her entanglement ordeal, Maldives

Elba is a juvenile olive ridley turtle. She came to us via Six Senses, Laamu Atoll. Elba is a victim of ghost net entanglement. She had also swallowed a fishing net into her stomach and had a deep wound around her flipper. We had to surgically remove the net from her stomach after assessing her with X-ray and ultrasound exams. We then surgically repaired her flipper.


Chrissi – Arrived 10th April 2019, Released 7th May 2019

Turtle patient Chrissi fully recovered and ready to be released
Chrissi fully recovered and ready to be released

Chrissi arrived with a very swollen flipper from being entangled in a ghost net. We performed x-ray and ultrasound exams and did our best to save her flipper and avoid an amputation. She took a while before starting to use her flipper, but with time and treatment she recovered. Chrissi was released on 7th May 2019, just short of a month after arriving at the Rescue Centre. Watch her release here.

The Resident Patients

Heidi – Arrived 21st April 2018

Olive ridley turtle Heidi donating blood to save fellow turtle patient Faith ORP Turtle Resuce Centre Maldives
Heidi donating blood to save Faith

Heidi remains healthy and was a very brave turtle this week! She donated blood to Faith for her blood transfusion! Heidi was chosen as donor as she is our only healthy adult turtle. She got a big dinner as a thank you for helping save the life of the little hawksbill turtle, Faith.

Eve – Arrived 26th December 2019

Turtle patient Eve a juvenile olive ridley turtle Maldives

Eve is still not using her front flipper properly but we still have hope she will start using it one day. We ultrasound scanned her shoulder and found she has a lot of scar tissue. We also took a sample from her shoulder joint to grow bacteria and ensure she was on the right antibiotic.

Lynn – Arrived 27th February 2019

Turtle patient Lynn has finally started eating
Lynn has finally started eating

Lynn has started eating! Lynn did not eat for 2 months and then suddenly one day started taking an interest in food. She now has a great appetite and has gained 2kg already.

Artemis – Arrived 27th February 2019

Baby olive ridley turtle patient Artemis ORP Marine turtle rescue centre Maldives

Artemis has had another surgery on his broken front flipper. He has needed many staged surgeries to try and help him regain function of his flipper. We hope that is the last surgery he needs and we are now waiting to see how the flipper heals.

Nemo – Arrived 4th March 2019

Nemo olive ridley turtle ghost net victim Maldives

Nemo is using his flipper more each day. We are very excited to see him regaining use of a flipper as we thought we might end up amputating it. He has chronic damage to two joints so he will never have full function, but he may learn to use it enough to return to the wild.

Moodhu Vina – Arrived 13th March 2019

Ghost gear victim olive ridley turtle Moodhu Vina at the ORP Turtle Rescue Centre Maldives
Moodhu Vina at the Rescue Centre

Moodhu Vina is doing well and is swimming very well. We re-xrayed his problem elbow and are seeing promising results to antibiotic treatment. He is using the flipper, but still needs to complete his course of antibiotics before he can be released.

Taloola – Arrived 27th March 2019

Olive ridley ghost net victim recovering at ORP turtle rescue centre Maldives

Taloola is doing well but has developed a shoulder infection. She is not using her remaining front flipper. We grew the bacteria from her shoulder joint,and also did a joint flush to try and clean out the infection. She is on antibiotics.

Azura – Arrived 2nd April 2019

Olive ridley ghost net victim recovering after flipper amputation, ORP Turtle Rescue Centre, Maldives
Azura post surgery to amputate her flipper

Azura has made great improvements and has almost completely healed. This despite having a large hole in her shoulder where infection had rotted away her tissue after ghost net entanglement. She has almost completely covered this area with new healthy tissue. We just need to sort out her buoyancy syndrome and then she can be released once she can dive.

Joy – Arrived 9th April 2019

Ghost net victim recovering at ORP Rescue Centre, Maldives

Joy has developed an elbow infection from her ghost net wounds. She is unfortunately not using the flipper and has changes to her bones on the xray. She is on antibiotics.

Florence – Arrived 10th April 2019

Olive ridley turtle suffering from buoyancy syndrome, ORP Rescue Centre, Maldives

Florence has recovered from buoyancy syndrome! She has been suffering from pneumonia and trapped air. We removed the trapped air and treated her pneumonia with antibiotics. She is now diving and resting at the bottom of the tank. She needs to stay with us another week or two to resolve her pneumonia and then she can be released. She has also gained 1kg of weight.