juvenile Green Turtle (hybrid ?) [RB.CM.30], 12 July 2018, Landaa Giraavaru, Baa Atoll, Maldives
Weight/length: 1.3kg / 24.0cm (on admittance);
Indra was found tangled in a ghost fishing net, drifting off Landaa Giraavaru, and was rescued by team members of the Four Seasons Explorer on 12 July 2018. This juvenile Green turtle was most likely only recently entangled in this ghost net as her injuries are only minor.
Indra is actually very special, as despite looking like a Green Turtle, she also demonstrates characteristics of Hawksbill Turtles! Due to the shape of her scutes (scales) and serrated carapace, we think Indra might be a hybrid. We have taken DNA samples, and hope to send them overseas later in the year for analysis, to confirm our theory.
“The paternal species can be determined by looking at the mitochondrial DNA.” — Hybridization of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the Pacific Ocean. Seminoff, 2003 [PDF].
Unfortunately Indra is also an example of how careless human actions can have negative consequences on the environment. Since her recovery, she has been excreting ingested pieces of plastic debris, with fragments of fishing nets and synthetic fibres recovered from her faeces. She has been eating well and remains very active, diving and resting at the bottom of her pool. Despite this, we will continue to monitor her at our Kuda Huraa turtle rehabilitation centre until we are certain that she has expelled all the harmful materials from her stomach.
We think that Indra might be the first recorded sighting of a Green-Hawksbill turtle hybrid anywhere in the Maldives !
Online reports document the occasional rare sightings of turtle hybrids (in Australia and elsewhere) so we are inviting feedback from our colleagues around the Maldives – if you have any insights into turtle hybridisation, please do get in touch.
All the plastic excreted by Indra