DCIM100MEDIADJI_0006.JPG

During October, we were excited to receive our new turtle enclosure! It is a 12m-diameter aquaculture pen, dedicated to our rescued sea turtles and very kindly sponsored by two of our guests, Shazmeen Banks and Sue Olsen (on behalf of the Olsen Animal Trust).

Turtle enclosure – collage [LG 2018.10]

Once the enclosure was successfully assembled, we towed it to a permanent location and anchored it securely at Parrot Reef. We chose Chomper to be the very first test turtle, as his wounds are healed and he shows little buoyancy syndrome (difficulty diving due to trapped air). So, on 14 October we ferried Chomper out to the lagoon for a trial swim … which proved a great success!

For the next 10 days, we checked on the empty enclosure daily, to monitor the ocean currents in the area and observe the effects and stability of the new setup. As we predicted, the Parrot Reef location shelters the cage from strong currents and waves, and the relatively fine mesh limits water flow through the enclosure, all of which will aid our rehabilitation turtles to regain confidence in the open ocean environment.

Sea turtle rehabilitation enclosure Marine Savers Maldives (1) assembly
Sea turtle rehabilitation enclosure Marine Savers Maldives (2) positioning

On 25 October, we transported Chomper out to the enclosure for a second time, for a longer observation and training session. At first, he started to bite the netting, presumably due to the stress of the boat transfer, but he soon started swimming around the entire pen, and trying to dive down repeatedly. After a meal of fresh fish, we transferred him back to his normal pool in our Centre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On 29 October, after a couple of days to recover from the stress, we again ferried Chomper out to the enclosure. He seemed much more relaxed this time, and we fed him and observed his behaviour for several hours. After checking on Chomper again later that same day, we decided to leave him in the enclosure overnight. This proved a success, and Chomper lived in his new lagoon home for 4 full days, during which time we fed and checked on him twice daily.

With only two flippers on the same side of the body, it is physically challenging for him to dive much below the water surface, although initially he did appear to be resting slightly lower in the water (less buoyant). He was feeding well, but didn’t actively come to seek the food when it was presented to him in the water, so we had to place it closer to his mouth.

After several days of cloud and rain, the weather changed back to sunny and hot, so we decided to return Chomper back to his shaded pool at our Centre. Being stuck floating on the water surface, he is obviously vulnerable during hot weather and indeed seems to have tanned slightly on his carapace and extremities. We have now add a shading tarp to cover part of the enclosure, and Albert has also ventured out to stretch his flippers!

The structure of the enclosure itself seems to attract the growth of algae, but after an initial bloom, several sea hares settled on the netting to feed, thereby ‘cleaning’ the net. We will monitor this as part of our maintenance procedure, along with the new barnacles which have arrived on the ropes and mooring blocks.

enclosure marine life sea hares Maldives (0547)

Long-tailed Sea Hare (Stylocheilus longicauda)

Share this page:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail