Turtle Nest Protection & Head Start
[E]arnie and Mikka are 10-month old Hawksbill turtles that were found last year as hatchlings, left behind on the beach of Voavah (uninhabited island) in Baa Atoll. It was a chance finding for sure, and they have both been thriving at our rearing facilities here at Kuda Huraa, with Earnie reaching a length of 26cm and a weight of 2.5kg.
We decided to release Earnie from our turtle safari dhoni (on 31 December), and once back in the ocean he was seen to dive immediately for cover beneath a table coral, seemingly getting his bearings. Several minutes later he set off again and soon disappeared from sight.
We plan to release Mikka in the near future, with a satellite tag attached so we can follow his oceanic journey.
[O]n New Year’s Eve, we received a phone call from Robyn (Dive Manager at Taj Exotica) regarding two Olive Ridley turtles that had been found trapped in discarded ‘ghost’ fishing nets. Both were sent to us and the fishing net was removed from the ocean. Unfortunately, one of the turtles had suffered severe lacerations around its neck and did not survive the journey. The second Olive Ridley was a large 68 cm female, and after a thorough check-up and two nights of treatment at our centre, we successfully released her back into the ocean on 2 January.
Elsa is our resident Olive Ridley here at Kuda Huraa – her front flippers were lost after entanglement in drifting ‘ghost’ nets. Fortunately her buoyancy has improved and she is often seen at the bottom of the pool, so we are now looking at releasing her experimentally in deeper waters.
Bobita – on 5 December, after more than one year at Landaa Giraavaru we finally said goodbye to our long-term resident. Bobita was found in S.Malé atoll way back in August 2012, and after dedicated care and attention at our rehabilitation centre, was finally ready to return back to the wild. Following one failed release attempt (where she swam back to the beach), we decided to quietly release her in deep water from our dinghy, to minimise stress. Upon release, she quickly dived down and swam immediately away into the blue. We are very happy to have finally returned her back to the sea where she belongs – bon voyage, Bobita!
On 31 December, a local fisherman from Eydhafushi phoned us to report a small Hawksbill turtle that had been found trapped inside a ghost net. We gave him an overnight fresh water bath to help with rehydration and to kill any parasites on the skin. We were actually able to make a positive ID for this turtle too – it turns out he is HK319, and we’ve nicknamed him ‘Lucky’ (photo below). He’s been photographed on two previous occasions close to the island of Madhirivaadhoo, and it will be interesting to see if we spot him there again on future snorkel excursions.
Elisa (long-term) has been with us since September 2012 – she is missing a flipper from an old injury (perhaps due to entanglement in a ghost net) and her remaining front flipper is deformed. It took Elisa more than a year to learn how to swim and dive, but during December she was often to be seen at the bottom of her pool. She had one of the biggest personalities of any of our patients, and was successfully released back at sea on 2 January – we all wish her a long and healthy life.
We currently have 3 resident turtles under our care at Landaa :
Naushad’s flipper injuries have been healing nicely, and to encourage her to dive down and overcome the buoyancy problem, we gently push her below the surface at feeding time.
Ossy was found in a ghost net on 22 August, close to Madhirivaadhoo. Despite her best efforts, she is not yet diving and has also become a very picky eater (taking only prawns). We hope that she will begin diving soon so that she can be released in the near future.
Zahiya (long-term) continues to suffer from ill-health and may never be fit enough for release.
We have now rescued a total of 41 Olive Ridley turtles at Landaa Giraavaru in the last three years. 25 of those turtles spent some time at our centre and were released after rehabilitation, and we experienced the death of just one Olive Ridley in our care.