Turtle Patient Update Issue 4 | 2022



Minnie, Arrived 4 March 2022, Released 9 April 2022

Dr Minnie checking turtle patient Minnie's injured flipper. Image.

Minnie, our juvenile Hawksbill patient, came to us a little underweight, covered in barnacles and with a non-healing wound, which we suspect was caused by a predator attack. Earlier last month we performed minor surgery on her to remove some of her dead tissue, after which her flipper healed very well. Though initially the bones of her wrist looked unsalvageable, eventually we were able to save most of her wrist joint.

With a month of dedicated wound care, pain relief and antibiotics, Minnie bounced back very quickly. We put her on a steady diet of prawns and she regained her lost weight swiftly, and became a very active, alert and fiesty little turtle.
Incredibly happy with her progress, we released Minnie back to her house reef, from where she was found. We hope she will be seen around for many years to come.

Sumo, Arrived 10 January 2022, Released 4 April 2022

Turtle patient Sumo in her tank. Image.

Sumo had been found floating with a cracked skull, after which she was brought to us. Weighing over 40kg and with a 75cm long shell, she truly was a fighter, surviving despite her injuries from what we suspect had been a boat hit. She had to undergo surgery to remove all the dead and damaged bone of her skull and during the course of her diagnostics, we could see she was absolutely filled with follicles, which are like early eggs. We knew we needed to get her out to the wild as soon as possible, because she was entering a state called pre-ovulatory follicular stasis, where all the follicles get stuck because they haven’t been fertilised.

All through early last month, Sumo’s intermittent eating continued to baffle Dr. Minnie, since her tests had come back normal. To manage her stress levels, Sumo was moved to a bigger tank, and over time it made a noticeable improvement to her diving efforts. She was able to repeatedly reach the floor, although she still had to put in quite a lot of effort and corked up pretty rapidly afterwards, it was still a definite improvement. Sumo also ate a prawn, making our vet very happy.
After about 2 weeks in the big tank, Sumo was able to pull herself under with more ease. Our team decided that it was in her best interest to be released as soon as possible, so we took her on a sea swim to see how she would do. After a shaky start, she really picked up speed and was able to get under the water and stay down easily, so we decided to let her swim off! We really hope she is able to find a mate and get those follicles turned into eggs! Good luck Sumo!

Zeo, Arrived 23 January 2022, released 1 April 2022

Zeo floating on the surface. Image.
Zeo floating on the surface.

Zeo had been making great progress all of last month, diving around the tank for food every day. But she was still highly stressed when it came to spa day and tank cleaning.

To manage her stress, Zeo was transferred to our friends at the Atoll Marine Centre where she could take full advantage of their sea cage. We believed this would give Zeo lots more space and encourage her to practice her diving skills as well as reduce her persistent stress.

Once she was moved, the new environment quickly did its job, and we were so happy to see how quickly she was able to dive and swim excellently, thanks to the extra space. Given her great progress, she was successfully released on April 1st. We wish Zeo the best of luck!

Jodie, Arrived 9 January 2022, Released 22 March 2022

Turtle patient Jodie in her tank at teh Rescue Centre. Image.

Jodie had come to us with 2 flipper losses from ghost entanglement and an infection in the bones of one of her flippers, which thankfully we were able to identify and treat successfully early on.

She turned into such a character at the rescue centre, always trying hard to dive and incredibly food motivated from the get go. After a lot of great effort, she regained control of her buoyancy 100% and was able to swim very well with only 2 flippers.
Jodie spent a good 72 days with us, finishing her medication, resting and regaining her strength. Once her final X-rays came back all clear, we knew she was ready to go home. Our team released her from the beach and watched her swim freely and confidently over the reef.

The Resident Patients

Crwban, Arrived 8 March 2022

Turtl epatient Crwban in the rescue centre tank. Image.

Crwban has very quickly figured out how to dive and has also learned that prawns are a perfect recovery food, so he has been doing excellently!

He had an exposed bone on his right front flipper but after performing X-rays, it was determined that the exposed bone would likely fall off by itself in a few days, leaving behind a well healed wound. In the meantime, he was put on pain medication and antibiotics, and just as predicted, with time the exposed bone fell off, leaving behind a small bit of tissue that had already started to heal.

Soon after, Crwban began diving, regained control of his buoyancy and has been causing chaos at the rescue centre ever since. He has also been eating loads, and his x-rays showed that his right flipper stump has healed very well. In fact we were so happy with how well he was doing that we had planned his release on the 6th of March.
Unfortunately, when the day came he wasn’t quite so ready! Although his buoyancy control was excellent and he could dive, he would only dive to 0.5m and no deeper. We need turtles to dive down deeply when they’re released, as that is normal behavior but we weren’t quite seeing it, so we made the call to bring him home.

We have repeated his blood sample and it does appear that he may be brewing a little infection, so it’s possible that he requires a little further treatment. He is otherwise eating and diving exceptionally well, and can rest at the bottom with zero problems!

Autumn, Arrived 22 February 2022

Turtle patient Autumn in her tank. Image.

We are happy to report that Autumn’s left amputation wound is healing well, while her right flipper is progressing as expected, with some dead tissue appearing, though she thankfully has normal function of the flipper. 

Over the weeks, Autumn moved on to eating tuna and is now spending most of her time resting at the bottom, which is great. Later last month, Autumn was able to regain full control of her buoyancy – diving excellently and maintaining a great appetite. Her flipper usage improved considerably and her wounds are nearly completely healed. It won’t be long before we can send her on her way. We just need to repeat a blood sample in the coming weeks, and then even more excitingly, we think she will be our first satellite tagging candidate!

Leonardo, Arrived 14 February 2022

Turtle patient Leonardo, close up. Image.

Leonardo, though fully recovered from his dramatic skin infection, we noticed, was also only using his back flippers to dive and swim. To check this complication, we took him to the clinic and gave him a short anaesthetic so that we could fully feel his flippers. Unfortunately he had markedly reduced range of motion and the x-ray revealed that the head of his humerus (main flipper bone) had started to degrade. This happened rapidly, in only 3 weeks and we are still uncertain whether this was due to a serious bone infection or due to a prior dislocation that resulted in the degradation of the joint. We started him on anti-inflammatories, pain-relief and continued to monitor him closely.

To our delight, last week Leonardo moved his right flipper for the first time! For 2 consecutive days we noticed him doing little movements to reach his food, which was very exciting. Over time, these little flipper twitches turned into flipper sweeps and we are noticing more and more movement in that joint! He had a repeat ultrasound and unfortunately the joint has completely deteriorated, but we believe that with the correct treatment, he will be able to form a secure pseudo joint that will allow him still to move the flipper.

Kalo, Arrived 20 January 2022

Turtle patient Kalo in his tank. Image.

We performed x-rays for Kalo earlier last month and found out that the bone end of his amputated left flipper was healing very well. Even his right flipper looked almost completely normal, which considering how much of his humerus was exposed, was amazing news.

While in recovery, Kalo had made a very small attempt to dive but was still significantly buoyant. Otherwise, he is very keen on food and is fit as a fiddle. His wounds continued to heal very well all of last month (almost 95%), and despite his buoyancy, he was starting to attempt some dives.His most recent follow-up X-ray last week confirmed that the left flipper stump was continuing to heal impressively. Kalo did develop a small bit of damage to his left eye, most likely from knocking into something and it was causing him some discomfort, but there has already been improvement within a few days, so we will continue to monitor him.

The most exciting news is that very recently, he made his first ever little dive attempt for his food and managed to just about get the end of his carapace under. We continue to encourage him to dive for his food, and we are confident he will regain his buoyancy in time!

Pickle, Arrived 10 December 2021

Turtle patient Pickle in her tank. Image.

Pickle has had the most wonderful couple of weeks, having shown markedly improved right flipper movement, around 80%, and we couldn’t be happier!
Though her recovery had been slow at the beginning of the month, she is now swimming around the big tank actively and diving excellently. We will continue to give her time and space to heal completely, as that seems to have worked wonders, and we will also continue to monitor her closely. Pickle’s situation is definitely looking up and we are hopeful that we can release her sooner than later.

Tibby – Arrived 26 July 2021

Turtle patient Tibby at the edge of the tank looking annoyed. Image.

Tibby’s eating habits are fluctuating at the moment – some days she eats lots and others she won’t eat at all, leading to some loss of weight. She currently weighs 18kg so we shall be feeding her a bit more to try and get her weight back up.
Unfortunately she is also not getting any stronger in terms of swimming against currents, and is too weak to go back into the sea on her own.

She continues to rest at the bottom of the tank, but the good news is that she was recently spotted using the brushes attached to the wall of her tank to scrub herself! We hope to see more of this behavior over the coming weeks.

Xena – Arrived 1 November 2020

Turtle patient Xena in her tank. Image.

We took Xena out for a couple of sea swims so that she could practice her diving skills, and we’re happy to report that she performed her best ever dive, reaching approximately 25 metres for over 3 minutes. This is a far cry from where she was this time around 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 her shoulder, which was one of our main concerns, now remains at a normal low position.

To keep her practice going, Xena is also 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! We will continue to put her through her paces because we know she can do it!!

Discovery – Arrived 7th February 2020

Close-up of turtle patient Disco. Image.

Disco is her usual active and bright self, her little head wound from a small run in with Leonardo through the divider has healed up quickly. She continues to eat well, though her appetite can be intermittent depending on the freshness of the fish (she is a little madam!). Disco is also one of the most determined turtles we’ve met and is still giving it her all while trying to dive.

We have had a visiting veterinarian arrive this month and with their expertise in endoscopy, we will be investigating Disco’s buoyancy issues once again in the coming weeks. We can only hope there is something we can do to resolve her open lung tear.

Heidi – Arrived 21st April 2018

Close up of turtle patient Heidi. Image.

Heidi is doing very well as always; bright as a button, active and with his trademark 10/10 appetite. We are pleased to report that Heidi is now one step closer to making his way to the UK, as his import certificates have been submitted and we are now waiting to hear from the authorities.

Once this is done, we will confirm his export certificate with Maldives after which, we will be good to go. In the meantime, we are also approaching airlines to get Heidi sponsored to fly, and we will keep you updated on how you can help our sweet little turtle get to the UK.


Izzy, Arrived 7 February 2022

Turtle patient Izzy trying to diver in her tank. Image.

Izzy tragically passed away on 20th March. Although he had come to us very weak and unwell, he initially had responded incredibly well to treatment, and even passed a good amount of small bits of plastic.

Unfortunately, towards the end of last month, his condition deteriorated hugely. There was a plug of material that would not shift from the end of his cloaca – likely a large piece of plastic.He had to be tube fed, and despite multiple treatments, including fluids, pain relief and antibiotics, he succumbed to his illness. On post mortem, we found that the very end of his colon was incredibly dilated with faeces and was bruised and damaged. His bladder (which is connected to their cloaca) was filled with damaged tissue and even his cloaca was very inflamed. We believe that plastic ingestion caused significant trauma within his large intestine and colon, leading to a buildup of dead tissue and blockage.

It was incredibly sad and frustrating for our team to see Izzy get better and then watch him lose his strength. Izzy was likely only between 2-4 months old and the amount of toxic plastic he had ingested goes to show how pervasive the plastic problem is.