12th October – Release of Riusha, rescued Olive Ridley Turtle
We received Olive Ridley turtle ‘Riusha’ (OR112) on 31 August. It was found entangled in a ghost fishing net, floating at the surface close to Kuramathi Resort by their resident marine biologist, Angela. The juvenile turtle had numerous lacerations on its flippers caused by the net, with a particularly deep cut into her left front flipper, along with numerous abrasions across its entire body including the carapace, head, mouth, and plastron (belly). We also observed what appeared to be severe sunburn on her carapace, probably as a result of being stuck at the sea surface, and therefore exposed to direct sunlight for what could have been several weeks.
At the beginning, she was in a very bad condition and extremely stressed. She was initially treated with a fresh water bath, thoroughly cleaned all over with iodine, had her wounds treated and then injected with antibiotics to fight any infection. She was also unwilling to eat due to lacerations of the mouth, so we decided to force feed her until she began eating again unaided. For the first few weeks, her health was in serious question as she would remain immobile, floating on the pool surface.
However after 2 weeks, the juvenile showed good signs of improvement, eating small pieces of tuna independently, and showing increased activity with dives down to the bottom of the pool. Over the last 2 weeks, the juvenile was improving every day – eating more food and being increasingly active around the pool. And so on 12 October, we decided to release OR112 back into the wild. She was fed a hearty last meal of tuna and squid, and then at around 5.30 pm was removed from the tank and onto the MDC boat to be released back out into the wild. Upon release, the juvenile turtle swam quickly away into the depths and disappeared from view.