ElsaRescue Turtle

Elsa (RB.LO.031) admitted 09-Jul-13

On 9 July 2013 we received a new juvenile Olive Ridley turtle from Bandos Island Resort. The turtle, named ‘Elsa’, had been found the previous day entangled in a ghost fishing net. She was suffering from a laceration to the neck and her front right flipper was already missing; sadly the front left flipper also needed to be amputated. The team at Bandos performed the amputation and transported her to our turtle rehabilitation centre.

Upon arrival she suffered from buoyancy issues and her recently amputated flipper needed to be treated to prevent infection. Now that the stump is healed we have started air extraction to improve her buoyancy and it seems to be working – we will continue this treatment regularly until she is able to dive.

Elsa is showing significant health improvements. She is able to swim and dive down, but without her two front flippers she has a very slim chance of surviving in the wild. Elsa is deemed “unreleasable” as without both front flippers diving to depths of 150m to forage for benthic invertebrates would be challenging as well as the long distance migrations Olive Ridleys are known to undertake yearly. Due to these concerns, we have been trying to locate a permanent home for Elsa to live her life in specialised care.

We often see her at the bottom of the pools foraging for food, but when we try to release her back into the ocean she makes no effort to submerge (perhaps due to the stress associated with transportation).
We are going to start monitoring her diving frequency by using a ‘Go Pro’ camera on automated mode, to record the pool in two-hour intervals. We are looking at re-housing her in a specialised overseas facility, possibly an aquarium in Singapore.

Healthy, very active and able to dive; often found resting on the bottom of the pool. We are target-training to increase activity levels, improve diving and prepare for a future home in an overseas aquarium.

Elsa remains active, with a healthy appetite and is often seen resting at the bottom of her tank. Missing both front flippers, she can sadly never be released back into the wild, so we are currently hoping to send her overseas to the Oceanarium Planeta-Neptun in St Petersburg (Russia) to give her better care and a permanent home. Elsa will be housed in a large marine exhibit (31m x 12m x 3m deep) perfectly suited for her difficulties in diving. We still have further documentation to complete (CITES, health certificate) before Elsa can start the journey to her new home.

Name Elsa
Sex Juvenile
Species Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Date of Admittance 9 July 2013
Location Bandos, North Malé Atoll, Maldives
Issues Front left and front right flipper amputations
Diet Fish, squid and lobster
Treatment Multivitamin and calcium supplements
Length 48.5cm SCL
Weight 10.5kg (arrival); 18.2kg (Nov-15); 23.8kg (Nov-16);

September 2017

On September 13, 2017, Elsa, a female juvenile olive ridley turtle estimated under 20 years of age, became the fifth”‘flying turtle” to travel from the Maldives by plane to begin a new life overseas.

Donated to St. Petersburg’s Planeta-Neptun, Russia’s first Oceanarium, Elsa follows in the pioneering flipper-steps of her olive ridley cousins – Kerry, Zahiya, La Petite and Peggy, the original “flying turtles” who made Maldivian and European history in August 2016 when they became the first live turtles to be flown overseas from the Maldives for rehabilitation purposes, and the first olive ridleys to be represented in a European facility (Belgium’s Pairi Daiza Zoo).

Like her flying cousins before her, Elsa was a long-term resident of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Sea Turtle Conservation Program. She initially spent a year being cared for at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa, having been found in North Male Atoll floating at the surface entangled in a ghost fishing net; her two front flippers so badly damaged they had to be removed. A year later in August 2014, with her buoyancy syndrome healed, she was transferred to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru, where she remained for a further three years.

Deemed “non-releasable” (based on international standards), Elsa made her epic journey to St. Petersburg on September 13, accompanied by Sebastien Stradal – Landaa’s former Marine Discovery Manager and pioneer of the Flying Turtles Project – to ensure her welfare. She is housed in an 800 square metre (8,600 square feet) tank, where she will play a vital educational role in keeping with the Oceanarium’s ethos.

Commenting on the donation of Elsa to Planeta-Neptun, Annemarie Kramer PhD, Landaa Giraavaru’s Marine Discovery Centre Manager said: “In an ideal world, we would return all of the turtles we care for back to the ocean to continue their life in a natural environment. But for turtles like Elsa, whose chance of survival in the wild is so low, the Flying Turtle Project offers improved long-term wellbeing and extended medical care in a more diverse and natural-feeling environment than we are able to offer at our Rehabilitation Centre. We are very grateful to Sebastien, the Maldivian authorities and everyone else who has worked so hard to make this project possible. We know that Elsa will make a great ambassador for her species, helping to educate the public about the threats faced by sea turtles like her.”

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