adult female Olive Ridley turtle (RB.LO.236), admitted 20 January 2023, North Ari Atoll, Maldives
Weight / Length: 20.1kg / 54.0cm (on admittance);
Michelangela was rescued on 19 January 2023 by Sandies Bathala and Werner Lau, Bathala Divers in North Ari Atoll (thanks guys, for the rescue and for sharing your photos with us).
Michelangela was found in a large ghost net (discarded fishing gear) with two other turtles. The other two turtles were cut loose and set free, as they did not have serious injuries. Michelangela was sadly missing her front left flipper (from the entanglement), and was unable to dive below the water surface.
Michelangela was flown by seaplane (with the kind help of Trans Maldivian Airways) and is now in our Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Kuda Huraa.
Her wounds from the net are across all flippers, and her carapace has been cut around the edges. Unfortunately, she also arrived with a prolapsed cloaca, and is receiving daily honey wraps to reduce the swelling and aid in her recovery.
Michelangela has been started on antibiotics, and the prolapse was put back in place and stitched up by our resort doctor (thank you!) She is now able to pass faeces, and the stitches have been removed.
Michelangela was originally placed in one of our smaller glass pools so we could monitor the prolapse and stitches. Once we realised she was becoming less buoyant, she was moved to a larger pool with space to practise diving. The next day, she was found resting on the bottom of the pool and is now being fed on the bottom, encouraging her natural foraging behaviours.
Michelangela was awarded our patient of the month in February! 🥇 She has finished her course of antibiotics and her wounds are all healing well (with continued debriding). While on the treatment table, she is calm and well-behaved.
Throughout the month, Michelangela has been diving down for food, and resting on the bottom of the tank. She enjoys sleeping with her head in a ‘cave’ added to her tank as an enrichment device. She is now off medication and displaying excellent diving ability, so once her open wounds have healed she will be ready for release.
Michelangela has continued to impress us with her diving, and all of her wounds have now completely healed. Preparations are underway for her release, including satellite tag set-up and location planning. We are all very excited!
Tuesday 4 April 2023 … release day!
Following her full recovery, Michelangela was fitted with a satellite tracking tag and successfully released out in the open ocean on a guest Dolphin Excursion on 4 April. Following 75 days in our care, she had gained a healthy 1.9kg in weight.
Over the years, we have released several sea turtles of different species, fitted with tracking devices to follow their oceanic routes as they navigate the atolls (green turtles and hawksbills) and leave Maldivian waters (Olive Ridleys – often heading towards Sri Lanka and India).
The satellite tag was fitted and tested 2 days before release, to confirm that it was attached securely and transmitting successfully. You can follow Michelangela’s progress on our dedicated sea turtle tracking page.
UPDATE: after release, the tag transmitted one Class-B transmission, indicating that Michelangela had travelled around 1500m and was close to the island of Girifushi. Unfortunately, the tag has not transmitted since. There may be several reasons for this happening such as the tag falling off, or the wet/dry sensor malfunctioning.