Maldives Turtle ID Programme
[O]ur Maldives Turtle ID Programme is currently surveying 102 sites for Hawksbill and Green turtles. Three of the atolls (Baa, N.Male, and Ari) are very active, and we now have new sightings coming from Laamu, Noonu, Lhaviyani and S.Male atolls. Between participants, we have identified a further 55 turtles this month and now have a total of 970 sightings in our database!
We are always on the lookout for more contacts in other atolls that would be willing to participate in the project and help fill the gaps in our data – please spread the word to interested parties.
“Head Start” Project
[C]urrently we have 17 juvenile turtles in our Head Start programme – two hawksbills and fifteen green turtles. On 6 September we received three more hatchlings that were born on the 4 September at nearby Coco Palm Resort (Baa Atoll). They are healthy and feeding very well in our facility and we will be monitoring them closely over the coming weeks.
We are also working closely with Coco Palm Resort in protecting a nest that is due to hatch during the first week of November – we hope the nest remains undisturbed and many new hatchlings will soon emerge. Our main focus is to ensure the nest is protected, so we have revised our technique to remove only two hatchlings per nest for our Head Start programme. This enables us to protect a greater number of nests, and ensure we increase the genetic pool of the turtles that we release.
On 3 September we released ‘Green Turtle #48’ at the coral gardens. This juvenile was born on the 10 August 2012 and had grown to our target length of 30 cm. We wish her all the best on her new journey in the wild.
And on 8 September we observed an unusual phenomenon, where large numbers of Portuguese Man O’ War washed up on the beach. Our guests needed to take extra care in the lagoon, but this proved to be a great opportunity for us to diversify the diet of our turtles, which were able to enjoy a plentiful new food source!
Rescue & Rehabilitation
[W]e currently have 6 turtles under our care here at Landaa Giraavaru: Ossy, Akua, Naushad and our long term residents Zahiya, Bobita, and Elisa.
After being force-fed for much of the month, Ossy and Akua (rescued 22 August) have now regained their appetites and are becoming stronger. Ossy’s amputated flipper has healed well and she’s trying hard to dive down to the bottom of her pool. We hope that both turtles will soon be fit and healthy enough to be released back into the ocean.
Meanwhile at Kuda Huraa, Elsa continues to make improvements in her diving, even without front flippers. We are researching the potential for attaching prosthetics, but this is a specialised area of rehabilitation and we do not have the required facilities at our centre.
Jessica arrived on 6 March with buoyancy problems, severe dehydration and only a single flipper remaining. After five months of care and rehabilitation she started diving successfully and was soon spending much of her time underwater. This was encouraging, so we were faced with a difficult decision – a future life out in the ocean presents unknown challenges, but seems preferable to a lifetime in captivity … and so Jessica was successfully released on 15 September. We wish her all the best for her future life!