Turtle Patient Update Issue 2 | 2022

Last Updated: February 8, 2022


Loabi, Arrived 28 December,2021, Released February 8 2022

Turtle patient Loabi being released. Image.

After 43 days in our care, Loabi was finally ready to return home! The cloacal prolapse that she arrived with had improved nearly 100%, and she was eating, swimming and diving like a champ. She gained a whopping 159g while she was here and went from a curved shell length of 10.5cm to 12.6cm! We are so pleased to be able to release her back into the wild, and although there are a huge number of challenges still to face, we can only hope she is able to beat the odds and reach adulthood! 

New Arrivals

Izzy, Arrived 7 February 2022

Izzy, a post-hatchling olive ridley turtle. Image.

Izzy is a very young juvenile olive ridley; he is only 12cm curved shell length and weighs 196g. Babies of this size should be out in the open ocean, not in the shallows of the atolls, so we knew something wasn’t right straight away. Izzy was very weak on arrival, and had a well healed partial amputation of some toes on the back right flipper and a large thick scab over his tail and cloaca that was occluding all passage of faeces. He has received fluids, antibiotics and pain relief.

This morning he needed help from Dr Minnie to pass 4 substantial pieces of plastic, and we can tell he is already feeling more comfortable as he has started to eat. Yesterday he refused. Although he is still very quiet an subdued, we are making sure he is comfortable with a cosy bed of seagrass to rest on, and we are hopeful he will be able to make a full recovery.

Mariyambu, Arrived 29 January 2022

Turtle patient Mariyambu with bandaged right flipper.

Mariyambu is an adult female olive ridley that was found washed into shore at Como Maalifushi Resort in Thaa Atoll. She is desperately weak and underweight (at least 15 kg less than she should be), but without any external injuries. Her X-rays haven’t flagged up anything inside her intestines that we can see, so it’s a little uncertain what has caused her poor physical state. We give her daily fluids to rehydrate and supplement her as she is not eating. Although there is no physical reason why she can’t open her mouth, she only seems to move her mouth minimally when food is offered to her. Otherwise she is relatively stable.

Zeo, Arrived 23 January 2022

Turtle patient Zeo floating in her tank. Image.

Zeo was found floating in North Malé Atoll with no visible external injuries. She is very buoyant but has started to eat well. She seems a little lower in the water now than when she first arrived. Hopefully she will improve over the coming weeks with some TLC and regular food.

Tawny, Arrived 23 January 2022

Turtle patient Tawny with bandaged flippers. Image.

Tawny, a sub-adult olive ridley turtle, was found in a ghost net in Lhaviyani Atoll. She had constriction wounds to her front flippers and her neck, and her back right flipper had been badly constricted and was dying off. We performed surgery to remove the rest of that bone and to clean up her wounds. Everything was going great until, when in recovery, she seemed to develop some kind of muscular damage that resulted initially in complete stiffness of her front right flipper and inability to use it. Thankfully it slowly started to function again and she has now regained almost 80% use of her right flipper. Although we aren’t sure what triggered it, thankfully time and space has sorted it out. Luckily she has no buoyancy issues and she is diving very well. Her wounds are looking really good too. As soon as she is 100% healed and her flipper usage is back to 100%, will be able to release her!

Kalo, Arrived 20 January 2022

Turtle patient Kalo with bandages. Image.

Kalo is a large adult male olive ridley turtle. He was found entangled in a ghost net at Vakkaru Resort’s house reef. He had bad entanglement wounds to both front flippers and a number of deep lacerations from shark bites. We performed surgery to clean up his wounds with the hope of saving all his flippers.

Kalo bounced back well from his surgery and has been having regular wound care this week. His right front flipper is still very concerning but thankfully he continues to have good motion in it. Unfortunately, his left flipper continues to deteriorate, and we are prepping for surgery this coming week – we will likely be performing a partial amputation, to see if we can preserve his first 2 digits so that he can continue to breed in the future. He is eating prawns well but hasn’t moved on to tuna yet.

The Resident Patients

Sumo, Arrived 10 January 2022

Turtle patient Sumo in her tank. Image.

Sumo had surgery to remove all the dead and infected material from her cracked skull. It took her a while to come round from the anesthetic and we had to monitor her overnight, but she did well and gradually got more active. Her buoyancy is still significant.

Although her head wound has been healing beautifully, and she has been trying to dive regularly and even reaching the bottom on a few occasions before she pings back up, Sumo refuses to eat anything. This is particularly frustrating as she was eating before she underwent surgery to clean her wound. We were giving her fluids but have held off again in order to try to decrease her stress levels and see if we can encourage an appetite. But so far no luck. We will be repeating blood works, X-rays and ultrasound to assess if anything has changed that we need to be concerned about. We suspect her active ovaries may have something to do with her lack of appetite. If that is the case, we may attempt to induce her to lay her eggs to reduce her stress and allow her appetite to recover while she regains control of her buoyancy.

Jodie, Arrived 9 January 2022

Turtle patient Jodie in her tank. Image.

Jodie is a lovely patient! She is very calm and amenable and has had a wonderful appetite right from the get go. She is very underweight at only 24 kg when she should be at least 30-35 kg, but she is doing her best to fix that with 200 gr of tuna twice a day! Her X-rays confirmed that she has an infection in the wrist of her remaining front flipper. Thankfully this has likely only recently developed and she was found in the right time frame for us to fix it. She has started a course of antibiotics and anti-fungals, and she still has 100% normal function so it shouldn’t get in the way of her regaining her diving abilities.

Jodie is very active and alert and eating huge amounts regularly! She is now sharing the big tank with Atlas and Pickle and is loving all the space. She can zoom up and down the middle and is getting better at diving already with all the room she has to practice. She has gained nearly 1kg since she arrived which is great, and she is responding well to her medication for her bone infection.

Atlas, Arrived  7 January 2022

Turtle patient Atlast in the tank at the Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.

Atlas is now consistently resting on the bottom of the tank, so his buoyancy issues are almost completely resolved. His left flipper is still very damaged but we can see he is intermittently using it ever so slightly. We will continue to monitor closely and work hard to save it! He has stopped being fussy about only eating prawns, and now chows down on tuna too. He can rest comfortably on the bottom of the tank and he sometimes does have slight movement in his left front flipper. Unfortunately the swelling is still significant and we will continue to monitor it closely and see if we can regain function. His wounds are healing well so we are hopeful we can regain some function once we start physio when everything is healed.

Biscuit, Arrived 16 December

Turitel patient Biscuit recovering in the tank at the Turtle Rescue Centre. Image.

Biscuit is doing really well: She is active and bright and does her best to dive for food at the bottom of the small tank, although it is awkward for her. We hope to take her to swim in the open ocean this week, to give her a chance to stretch her flippers.

Pickle, Arrived 10 December 2021

Turtle patient Pickle admiring her reflection. Image.

Pickle has been doing really well with her wounds and her appetite, but we have noticed that she wasn’t trying to dive as much, despite having no buoyancy issues. We initiated some training and it has become apparent she doesn’t have full range of motion in her remaining right front flipper. This is concerning given the situation with her other flippers. Her X-rays aren’t flagging up any shoulder joint issues, but it could still be early stages. Unfortunately, this has set her back significantly, when otherwise her wounds were healing really well. We performed a minor surgery under local anaesthesia to remove some dying bone from her right front flipper, but she still has minimal movement. The problem has not responded to the meds we have tried so far. We will be repeating X-rays regularly to see if there are any changes. Despite this, her buoyancy control is excellent and she is actually able to dive really well, so we are impressed at her resolve.

Tibby – Arrived 26 July 2021

Tutle patient Tibby. Image.

Tibby spends most of her time resting on the bottom of the tank. We are not seeing any real improvement in her, but she is still eating well and gaining weight slowly. She still struggles with her single working flipper.

Xena – Arrived 1 November 2020

Turtle patient Xena, a flipper amputee. Image.

Xena is definitely using her flipper more and this is great news. She 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.

Discovery – Arrived 7th February 2020

Turtle patient Disco enjoying a sea swim as part of her recovery. Image.

Disco is very active and bright this week and she is eating all her food pretty well. We haven’t had a chance to take her out swimming yet but we hope to do so soon.

Heidi – Arrived 21st April 2018

Turtle patient Heidi in his tank. Image.

Heidi is doing wonderfully. We have submitted his travel papers to the Maldivian government and are waiting to hear back! at the moment, Heidi is enjoying his time in a quarter of the big tank where he can zip around and stick his head into other turtle’s sides and see what they are doing. He has a healthy appetite as always, and this week had a scrub and a weigh in: he has gained a little but he always fluctuates around the same weight, so we are happy with that.


Moon, Arrived 12 January, Deceased 23 January 2022

Turtle patient Moon in her tank. Image.

Moon was found floating in South Ari Atoll near Vilamendhoo Resort. She did not have any external injuries but she was extremely buoyant, very weak and underweight, and not eating at all. She was very stressed upon arrival so we were monitoring her, with fluids each day to keep her healthy until she started eating. We were able to get her to eat after a long week of fluids, but unfortunately Moon was just too weak to pull through, and it was too late so save her.

Hera, Arrived 10 January, Deceased 5 February 2022

Turtle patient Hera in her tank. Image.

Sadly, Hera continued to get weaker and weaker and her buoyancy was almost getting worse. We drained 6 litres of air from the inside of her body, which initially made a significant difference to her buoyancy, but she must have still had an open lung tear as she re-filled completely with air after only an hour or so. Her plastron crack was very significant but didn’t go through to her internal body cavity. She was not interested in eating anything and also developed a strange issue with her left flipper, holding it straight down. This looked to be some kind of neuropathy (nerve issue) because we could not detect any bone or joint reason for why she wouldn’t be able to use it. To combat some of the potential issues this could cause, we attached pool floats to her flipper to keep it in a neutral position – flat on the water surface.

We eventually anaesthetised her to clean her wounds again, remove some air, and insert a feeding tube. Unfortunately, as we expected, she became very very deep under the anaesthetic and we elected to let her go, as she was suffering quite substantially. She was a lovely big female so it is such a shame, but she was also so excessively buoyant that in all likelihood, we would have never been able to release her.

Percy, Arrived 8 January, Deceased 12 January, 2022

Turtle patient Percy recovering from surgery. Image.

Percy fought very valiantly to survive. We worked very hard to save him, with multiple sleepless nights monitoring him, but unfortunately he was just too sick. We suspect he had some kind of brain damage because from the moment he arrived he was not acting normally and was extremely subdued and unresponsive.

Despite this we managed to pull him through but after attempting insertion of a feeding tube to support him through his recovery, it was all too much for him to handle and he died overnight, despite breathing on his own for prolonged periods of time.

Mojo, Arrived 7 January, Deceased 14 January 2022

Turtle patient Mojo recovering in the tank. Image.

Mojo had been getting on very well with minimal handling and every effort to reduce her stress, but unfortunately, quite randomly, one morning we woke up and she had died. It’s very sad and disappointing. On post mortem we could see she did have some apparent heart issues, with abnormally sized chambers which may have been caused by the pressures placed on her system by the air inside her. Buoyant turtles often are very much balanced on a knife’s edge.