ORP Turtle Patient Update Issue 9|2019

Current patients: Heidi, Eve, Artemis, Azura, Joy, Elba, Lucky and Thomas

Although we have not admitted any new patients since Thomas in June, the Rescue Centre continues to run at full capacity with eight resident patients. Our peak intake period is the North-East monsoon season in the Maldives, when the wind and currents flow in from the Bay of Bengal. This period normally runs from November to April and coincides with the nesting season for olive ridley turtles on India’s eastern shore in February and March. This may explain why we are seeing so many entangled olive ridleys during this time.

Olive ridleys often nest in a mass nesting event called arribada; thousands of females return to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs at the same time. The turtles are likely on their way to or from their nesting beaches in India when they encounter marine debris and ghost gear along the way and get entangled. The ghost nets and the entangled turtles drift with the currents and often end up in the Maldives.

The Resident Patients

Heidi – Arrived 21st April 2018

Turtle patient Heidi after 15 months at the Rescue Centre
Heidi

Heidi has now been at the rescue centre for more than 15 months. She appears healthy other than her problem front flipper. During a storm in July, part of the canopy above Heidi’s tank fell into the tank and Heidi had a bit of a shock! She wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and looked desperately at Vet Jackie for help first thing in the morning. Vet Jackie rescued her from the section of tarp and Heidi was happy again.

Heidi has so many fans at the Rescue Centre; guests come to visit her daily. She loves people and is curious about what is going on. Feeding time is still her favourite. We will be coming up with enrichment ideas to keep her mind busy.

We have now moved Heidi into the large tank to encourage her to exercise more.  She is enjoying the space and is certainly happily moving around. The volunteers accidentally fed her another turtles portion of food this week. She was super happy to receive the extra food but for the rest of the week we made her exercise for her food to work off the calories!

Eve – Arrived 26th December 2019

Turtle patient Eve after 7 months at the ORP Turtle Rescue Centre Maldives
Eve

Eve is our second longest resident patient, having been with us for seven months. She is still receiving short physiotherapy sessions daily and laser treatment. She is swimming quite well and is improving, but a little more slowly. She had an x-ray recently and her bones were clear of infection – which is great news! She just needs more time, muscle strengthening and laser therapy to try and improve her scar tissue tightness.

She is having time in the large tank to encourage her to use her right flipper. She is confident at diving and her appetite is great. 

Artemis – Arrived 27th February 2019

Baby turtle patient Artemis at the ORP Turtle Rescue Centre Maldives
Artemis

Artemis finally managed to do a dive after 5 months at the Rescue Centre! He seemed pretty pleased with himself. Always such a cutie, he is now in a small pool and he often hangs out near the glass so he can spy on us. He had an x-ray (he’s so small he fits on one plate) and we found that he had some gas in his gastrointestinal tract. We tried to worm him, but the taste of the tablets was not nice, so he spat them out.  We are currently coming up with a plan B to get him to swallow his tablets!

To encourage him to dive, Artemis has been having some ocean swims. He enjoys the big space, but stays very close to us as he knows his swimming ability is not the best. He is eating and growing well and continues to make everyone smile.

This week Artemis has been trying to dive. He has a big heart and he won’t give up.  One day he will manage to get to the bottom!

Azura – Arrived 2nd April 2019

Turtle patient Azura post surgery to remove proliferative tissue on her nose
Azura

In addition to her severely infected flipper, Azura developed proliferative tissue, called proud flesh, on her nose, due to trauma to the area. Vet Jackie recently performed surgery to remove this mass; Azura recovered well and her nose healed up fast. She was quickly back to her usual self, minus the mass, which means her nostrils are no longer at risk of obstruction. Her shell wounds are aslo healing well with only one large scab yet to fall off.

Azura remains buoyant and continues to try to launch herself at her food. We had to get new long tongs to keep our hands far away from her mouth when we feed her. We are also encouraging her to eat under water and she has made some progress on that, but still occasionally misses a food item. She watches it sink to the bottom of the tank whilst looking longingly at it, not managing to dive for it. Don’t worry, we always retrieve it for her!

Joy – Arrived 9th April 2019

Turtle patient Joy at the ORP Turtle Rescue Centre Maldives
Joy

Despite her shoulder being very swollen, Joy started using her flipper well. A repeat x-ray revealed that her bone infection had not cleared but, in fact, had become worse. We changed her antibiotic and moved her from the large to a medium size tank, where we are encouraging her to rest her flipper in the smaller space.

Joy’s surgical site looks much better this week. The second antibiotic has helped clear this infection. She is swimming very well although her elbow is still swollen. She is due for x-rays next week to check on the status of her bone infection and she remains on antibiotics for this. We are hoping we finally have control of her infection.

Her appetite is amazing and she now eats all of her food enthusiastically. She is a favourite of many of the guests and has regular visitors.

Elba – Arrived 6th May 2019

Close up of turtle patient Elba ORP Rescue Centre Maldives
Elba

We were getting confident that Elba was getting closer to release as she was swimming very strongly. But then she had a setback: she suddenly stopped using her front left flipper. We took her to x-ray and discovered a new bone infection on the images. She was doing so well, therefore, this news was a shock to the team. 

New antibiotic cover was started and hopefully we can stop the spread of this bone infection. She is also on pain relief. Her appetite is still great and for a wile she was convalescing in one of the small tanks.

A couple of weeks ago, Elba started using her left front flipper on and off. She was certainly more comfortable on pain medication. She ate well and was sharing a tank with Eve for a while. We had to separate them with a barrier, otherwise they would fight each other. She often looked at Eve through the barrier. 

This week, Elba has been swimming like a superstar.  She is due for an x-ray next week so our fingers are crossed and we are hoping for good news regarding the bone infection. She has taken up residence in her own small tank to give her more space to exercise.

Lucky – Arrived 12th June 2019

Olive ridley turtle Lucky at ORP Turtle Rescue Centre Maldives
Lucky

After about a month at the Rescue Centre, Lucky started to use her front left flipper – which is great news. The wound over the joint slowly healed and closed over, finally closing over completely after about 6 weeks of treatment. Her carapace wounds now also look great.

She was moved to the big tank to aid in her diving, and she loved the extra space. She was diving more often and for longer periods of time and loved swimming after her pieces of fish. This week we moved her to a medium sized tank to give other turtles some exercise in the large tank. Although she misses the big space, she has adapted well to her new smaller environment and continues to eat well. 

Lucky had x-rays to check for Osteomyelitis and there are a few locations where the bone is infected. These bone infections can take a long time to heal, so she will be continuing her antibiotic treatments.

Thomas – Arrived 18th June 2019

Rolex scholar and rescue centre volunteer Kim treating Thomas' wound
Thomas receiving wound treatment

Although Thomas is a fussy eater, her appetite has slowly improved: She started eating fish, but was not initially a fan of tuna. A week later, however, she started eating anything given to her!

Unfortunately Thomas developed a skin infection. This is being treated with iodine soaks daily and antibiotic cream, and she is also on an inject-able antibiotic. We hope this resolves quickly.

Thomas had some vitamin supplements this week and she is feeling much better. Her skin infection continues to improve, and she doesn’t need to have treatments as frequently. She is getting stronger every day and she is letting us know it!