We currently have three Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) in rehabilitation at Kuda Huraa – one juvenile, one female, and one male. All turtles are now off antibiotics, and their wounds are continuing to heal (sustained from prolonged entanglement in drifting ghost fishing nets).
Shareefa (LO.056) admitted 14-Feb-15 from Huvafen Fushi. Shareefa is now able to dive normally and rest on the bottom of the pool. She will be ready for release once the carapace wound heals over. Wound care continues weekly and calcium supplements have been added to her diet.
Maria (LO.057) admitted 28-Feb-15 from Maalifushi. Maria’s appetite has improved a little, although she is still not eating regularly and has limited energy. Maria will soon be moved to a larger pool to increase fitness. Her wounds are healing well, and so wound care is now performed on alternate days – cleaning with iodine followed by application of Silverleb.
Naseeb (LO.060) admitted 23-Mar-15 from Kuda Huraa. Naseeb’s appetite and activity level have been increasing. Wound care is on alternate days – flushing to remove any debris, cleaning with Betadine and applying Silverleb. Tissue at the amputation site is beginning to granulate (new tissue growth) and the site is beginning to close.
Sadly, two of our rescue turtles have recently died from their injuries – Buddy and Barney.
Buddy (LO.058) admitted 10-Mar-15 from Club Med. Died 01-May-15. Buddy was very active and eating until the day prior to his death. He was receiving daily lactulose and Digene to aide in moving food and gas through the digestive system. On 1 May, he began to show neurological problems and sadly passed away within hours, despite our best efforts at emergency care. A necropsy revealed an enlarged liver and abnormal amounts of gas trapped in the intestines.
Barney (CM.004) admitted 21-Apr-15 from Villingili (Addu Atoll). Died 03-May-15. Barney, a juvenile Green Turtle, was found stranded and lethargic on Villingili beach. When he arrived at our Centre, he was unable to raise his head so we kept him in shallow water to prevent drowning.
He was being given antibiotics, receiving iodine baths to remove epibionts, and fluids to maintain hydration, but had no appetite. Sadly he died from on 3 May.
Head Start Programme
We currently have twenty Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in our Head Start Programme, taken from six different nests. This month we have been treating for eye infections (Cilplox eye drops and iodine baths), but all our turtles continue to grow and are active and healthy. CM063 for example has gained over 200g in weight in four weeks.
Protection of Wild Turtle Nests and Hatchlings
Since the start of December, we have been alerted to a total of 19 turtle nests, laid naturally on Maldivian beaches by wild Green Sea Turtles. During visits to the agricultural island of Fenfushi, newly laid nests are documented and logged – GPS coordinates, distance to vegetation, shaded or in full sun, etc.
So far, 12 nests have successfully hatched:
- a total of 1,183 turtle hatchlings have been produced
- 36 hatchlings remain in pools at Fenfushi (checked for health & growth)
- 15 hatchlings entered our ‘Head Start Programme’ at Kuda Huraa
- 154 hatchlings emerged and successfully crawled naturally into the sea
- 978 hatchlings were released by our team (out to sea, between Raa and Baa Atoll)
- A total of MVR 11,190 (Maldivian Rufiyaa) has been given to the caretakers of Fenfushi (approx. USD$725).
As part of a pilot study to determine the viability of transporting sea turtle eggs by boat to neighbouring islands, a nest laid on the 23 February was relocated from Fenfushi to Landaa Giraavaru on 28 February, (day five of incubation). On the morning of 22 April, two hatchlings successfully emerged from the nest. They were kept safely away from exposure to the hot sun, and released after sunset out to sea. No more activity was seen from the nest, so it was excavated for analysis. The eggs were carefully removed and analysed. We noted wet sand at the bottom of the nest, and some eggs were covered with a fungus.
A total of 129 eggs had been relocated:
- 2 hatchlings
- 63 dead embryos at various stages of development,
- 64 “undifferentiated” (no visible blood spot or embryo),
- 52 seemed to be successfully fertilised (whitening of the egg and shell develops within one to four days of being laid),
- 12 unfertilised eggs (remained beige in colour throughout incubation).
In future, nest relocations will only be attempted when the nest is at serious risk (submerged by tide, human intervention). Moving nests can cause death of the developing embryo (heat exposure, mishandling, jarring movements) especially after the first 12 hours have elapsed. As we have seen, our test relocation suffered 50% loss due to the relocation process (as noted in the whitening of the eggs) and a further 50% loss by poor site selection (submerged by tidal waters).