Bethany, our turtle biologist, treating SEAKID‘s injuries at our turtle rescue centre, Kuda Huraa, Maldives
Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation
At the close of February, we were caring for four Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea), one Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and zero Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa.
At Kuda Huraa, we are currently at capacity with five Olive Ridley rescue patients occupying our rehabilitation pools. Our long-term turtle patients, Ari and Emma, continue to share our largest pool, divided down the centre. Ari has become a fussy eater, perhaps due to her new tank arrangements, whereas Emma seems to enjoy looking through the tank window, observing the world passing by. Emma also went on her first ocean rehabilitation swim this month, to encourage the use of her injured flipper. She surprised all of us by immediately diving towards the sea floor using only her rear flippers (with her front flipper tucked under her shell).
EMMA enjoying an ocean swim
Five Olive Ridley sea turtles at our recovery centre, Kuda Huraa
Updates on Our January Admissions
- Xanchi – wounds and lacerations are healing well, so we plan to relocate him to our ocean enclosure out in Landaa’s lagoon, to aid rehabilitation
- Seakid – started eating properly and his wounds have healed, but buoyancy is still a huge problem
- Michelangela – our February patient of the month! 🥇 She has completed the antibiotics, her wounds are healing well, and she is relaxed on the treatment table. She has already been diving and eating food from the bottom of the tank, so we hope to release her soon
- Burrita – a stressful month, incurring injuries from collision with the tank wall, so we moved her to our largest tank. She still has a healthy appetite, hunting food from pipes and devouring frozen ‘fish popsicles’
- Mora – sadly died on 5 February. A post-mortem examination revealed damaged lungs and some plastic in her oesophagus (likely eaten by accident while entangled and unable to find food)
🌊 Come take an ocean swim with Ari at Kuda Huraa ! 💦
Join 📸 @bethanywilkinson (Turtle Biologist) and 🎬 @charliesp.mb (Marine Biologist) swimming in the ocean with Ari the Olive Ridley. This is done frequently as part of her enriched rehabilitation, with the aim of improving her buoyancy syndrome and to encourage her to dive for sea grass.
We are honoured to work in research and conservation with these magnificent creatures…and are determined to do everything we can to protect them from the endless threats they face. From plastic pollution to reef destruction to climate change, sea turtles are fighting a losing battle… but assuming all turtles have the same fierce determination to survive as Ari, we are optimistic for their future💪
Sea Turtle Nest Protection
- On 6 and 17 February, we had two further green turtle nests laid on the beaches at Landaa. Both nests were laid near the first two laid in January (the beach at Villa #200).
- On 26 February, a third turtle made a ‘false crawl’ up the staff beach, but no nest was laid. We suspect this individual will return in the next few nights.
We are inspecting all four of our nests regularly, and have installed a remote camera to monitor the first nest. The new remote monitoring camera is solar-powered, and will send alerts when movement is detected. We hope to see the first hatchlings as they emerge from the sand, one night after 8 March.
February Turtle Admissions
During February, the only sick turtle patients we received at Kuda Huraa were (unusually) of two hawksbill hatchlings:
- one hatchling was found on the beach, dehydrated and very sick; we think it had been dropped by a flying bird, but despite our best efforts it soon died.
- the second hatchling was found in shallow water close to the beach; it was full of energy, so after a full health check it was released later that day, out in the open ocean (along with some palm leaves and seagrass for temporary protection).
An energetic hawksbill sea turtle hatchling was found stranded …
… and healthy, so was released the same day out in the open ocean.
Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program
During February, from the 23 new photo sets submitted by the public this month, we were able to add 11 new individuals to our national turtle database, and confirmed resightings of 7 named turtle already in our database.
Our current database now has uniquely identified totals of:
1408 Hawksbills, 302 Greens and 97 Olive Ridleys (from 5500+ separate sightings, taken across 17 different atolls of the Maldives).
Spotted a turtle? Share your photos
Our resident hawksbill turtle, ‘Maggie’ (EI0764) has been sighted on Kuda Huraa’s House Reef since way back in 2016, often spotted while we maintain our coral frames. This month, we noticed she has a new shark bite present on her carapace, but otherwise seems in good health. [photo]
Submissions consist of close-up photographs of the turtle facial profile, enabling us to outline the unique pattern of scales (scutes) that act like a human fingerprint.
Wild hawksbill turtle ‘Maggie’ on our House Reef
‘Maggie’ now has a shark bite to the carapace