Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation

[B]obita has been recovering well. By early November she had overcome her buoyancy issues and could often be seen sleeping fully submerged on the bottom of the pool. For the next stage of her treatment, we relocated her to our large sea pen out in the lagoon. Unfortunately, this may have been premature, as the move seemed to cause her some additional stress that appeared to trigger the return of her buoyancy issues. Thankfully, towards the end of the month, Bobita overcame her flotation difficulties and is now showing good strength in her flippers. As such, we hope to release her soon.

As part of our ongoing research into turtle buoyancy issues, we had hoped to take Bobita to the local hospital facility at Eydhafushi to perform an X-ray. This would enable us to safely visualise the internal body cavity to see where air might be trapped, and also spot the presence of any internal lesions. As it turned out, the local hospital (perhaps understandably) preferred to keep their facilities for the exclusive use of their more traditional two-legged patients!

We have been researching the possibility of purchasing our own portable ultrasound device to add to our diagnostic turtle toolkit but unfortunately even the cheapest devices are prohibitively expensive. If anyone knows of a local animal-friendly health clinic here in Maldives, or sees a second-hand ultrasound device for sale, please do get in touch.

[O]ssy continues to suffer from a severe flotation problem and we believe that she might also be blind. She is otherwise in good health – eating well, no signs of injury or infection and exhibiting normal behaviour in our rehabilitation pool. We are unsure of her chances of survival in the wild, so we are currently pursuing the ideal solution – that she may be rehoused to an (overseas) aquarium or marine centre.

[E]lisa has overcome her buoyancy issues and, like Bobita, was regularly sleeping on the bottom of the pool. Due to the current overcrowding in our facilities, we moved her to the lagoon sea pen but this saw her condition worsen again so we transferred her back to the smaller in-house pools.

Elisa on arrival, with severe buoyancy problem

Elisa on arrival, with severe buoyancy problem

Bobita in our rehabilitation pool

Bobita in our rehabilitation pool

New Turtle Facilities

[T]his month the design of the new turtle pool was finalised and approved, and handed over to the Engineering department for construction. The new pool will provide a welcome increase in the capacity of our turtle rehabilitation facilities and should hopefully be completed by the end of 2013.
It will be larger and deeper than our current pool, and feature a specialised epoxy paint surface to better resist abrasion by turtle beaks. It will have an effective water-circulation system, and the floor of the pools will have recessed areas to allow for easier cleaning of waste and food debris. Custom-manufactured windows will be arriving shortly from Singapore, to give a view of the turtles as they swim and feed under water.

[W]e are also looking at constructing a new sea pen out in the lagoon, as this offers a low-cost solution to quickly expand our turtle rehabilitation facilities. The most practical design would be to construct a new pen underneath one of the jetties, or actually below the Al Barakat restaurant itself. This would offer the following advantages:

  • Close proximity to the MDC, so quick to re-house the turtles and subsequently easy to support and monitor them
  • Low cost, as we would use the existing rigid support pillars
  • Large size, with a good depth and shaded from the sun, to offer excellent housing conditions
  • Good location, to increase awareness of our turtle rehabilitation work to guests
  • Compared to a land-based solution, there is of course no need for water pumps or manual cleaning

Proposed design of the new turtle pools