female Hawksbill turtle (RB.EI.041), admitted 24 May 2021, Velaa, Noonu Atoll, Maldives
Weight, Length: 22.0kg / 59.0cm (on admittance); 20.0kg / 59.4cm (Aug-22); 21.4kg / 59.4cm (Jan-23).
Artemis is a fully grown female Hawksbill turtle, rescued by our colleagues at Velaa Private Island (Noonu Atoll). She was unable to dive, and had a large amount of algae and barnacles on her shell, indicating she’d been floating on the ocean surface for a long time.
Artemis arrived at our turtle rescue centre at Landaa Giraavaru in a very weak condition; she was dehydrated and presented a badly injured front flipper (likely from prolonged entanglement in a ghost fishing net).
Accumulation of algae (and barnacles) indicates prolonged entanglement on the sea surface
Artemis was cleaned of all epibiota and placed in a freshwater bath for rehydration. She was started on antibiotics and we tended her wounds. Despite the swelling and severe lacerations, she is starting to use her flipper, which hopefully means we can still save it and avoid amputation. It will be a long recovery, but we hope she can one day be returned back to the ocean where she belongs!
Updates June 2021
Artemis continues with her course of antibiotics, frequent wound debridement and cleaning. All her wounds are healing appropriately; as soon as they are closed we can start physical therapy to help her recover the strength in her fight front flipper. She has a very healthy appetite and attempts diving constantly.
Artemis finished her course of antibiotics, and continues with frequent wound debridement and cleaning. Only one big wound remains in the cranial aspect of her right front flipper. She was transferred to one of the white tanks to encourage her diving by placing food at the bottom.
Artemis continues to make steady progress. The wound on her right front flipper is nearly healed and she’s using the flipper more and more; it will take time to recover the natural movement since she lost most of the cranial musculature, but it’s improving. She’s actively trying to dive, and has now reached the bottom of the white tank. She was transferred to a deeper tank to allow some exercise, and she’ll be transferred to the ocean enclosure as soon as it becomes available.
Artemis continues to make steady progress, the wound on her right front flipper is now completely healed. She’s actively trying to dive and can reach the bottom of the tank, but she’s still very vertical when diving, although we are hopeful that with exercise and patience, she will be able to dive properly and be released.
Artemis has regained some of the flipper musculature, which is very promising. She’s continues to actively try to dive, and is very enthusiastic in her attempts. We continue to feed her at the bottom of the pool, to encourage diving and buildup flipper strength.
Artemis can reach the bottom of the white tank, but her caudal end is still very buoyant. Depending on her improvement, she could be transferred to the ocean enclosure.
Artemis continues to make steady progress; she’s using her injured flipper more than before, and she has regained more of the musculature. For the last month, she’s been very picky about her food, enjoying lobster and prawns, but will only eat dark fish muscle occasionally. There has not been any change in her weight or attitude, and she continues to be very active.
Artemis is making good progress. She remains buoyant, and spends her time on the surface, but enjoys interacting with her enrichment toys. Her injured flipper remains partially usable, but will hopefully regain some extra function.
Artemis is still a picky eater; her favourite food is prawns, but she often spits out pieces of fish that she doesn’t like. However, she enjoys chasing small pieces of food around her pool, which encourages her to exercise and build muscle in the injured flipper. When the ocean enclosure is up and running again, she’ll be the first patient to enjoy it.
Artemis has been transferred to our lagoon enclosure. She is trying hard to dive, but isn’t yet able to remain below the water surface for any length of time.
After a few enjoyable days in the lagoon enclosure, Artemis remains buoyant but is making efforts to dive for food. Once the new shade-cover arrives, we will take her back out to the enclosure. She remains a fussy eater and spits out everything she doesn’t like!
Artemis has been up and down this month. She had a minor procedure in mid- April to try to remove some of the air trapped under her shell. This was very successful and over 2 litres of air was removed. However, she is still buoyant which indicates that the damage to her lungs is ongoing. She was briefly out in the ocean pen but has since stopped eating. We are currently doing everything we can to look after her and hope she recovers.
Artemis has lost some weight this month. She had a period of being even more fussy with her food than usual. Thankfully, this has resolved and she is eating well again. She remains buoyant but attempts to dive often.
Artemis remains buoyant, unable to dive much below the water surface. But she has a healthy appetite, and particularly enjoyed a large comb jellyfish which the Launch team found this month.
Artemis has been doing well this month. Although her buoyancy remains unchanged, she is a lot more active and has become very enthusiastic during meal times thanks to the hard work and positive interactions with our intern and apprentices.
Artemis’ turtle buoyancy syndrome remains unchanged – she floats on the surface of the water, unable to dive down for food. However, she has been very active recently, and has been swimming in our large lagoon enclosure. Keeping Artemis fit and healthy gives her the best chance of recovering her ability to dive.
Artemis has been trying hard to dive over the last few weeks. Although her buoyancy has fluctuated in the past, it does appear that she is sitting slightly lower in the water … we remain ever-hopeful of a slow recovery.
October – November
Artemis’ condition remains largely unchanged. She continues to practice her diving, and is very motivated to retrieve food items such as prawns from lower down in the water. To help her with this, we have built a new feeding device which encourages her to dive.
On 12 December, Artemis underwent a surgical procedure to remove her damaged flipper.
After months of rehab, she had regained no function in her front right limb, and she was getting it caught in objects around the pools.
After receiving a general anaesthetic to ensure that the surgery would not cause her any pain, she was moved to our surgery area set up in the lab. The operation was a great success, with no complications.
Artemis recovered from her anaesthetic overnight in the Lab, to make sure she was fully awake before going back into her pool. She was quiet for a few days, but is now back to her normal self – eating well, and very active.
Once the surgical site has healed fully, likely within a few weeks, Artemis will be moved back into the ocean enclosure for an extended period to encourage her full recovery. If she learns to dive again during this time, she will be able to be released back into the wild.
January 2023; 21.4kg / 59.4cm
The wound from Artemis’ amputation surgery has healed well, and we plan to introduce her to an extended stay in our ocean enclosure, to encourage more natural diving behaviours.
Artemis’ condition remains stable. This month she has been interacting extensively with the large log we have been using for enrichment. Her appetite remains good; however, her buoyancy remains unchanged.
Artemis’ condition remains stable, and her buoyancy remains unchanged. She continues to interact with the large enrichment log.
Artemis is healthy and active, with a healthy appetite. She attempts to dive after the food offered at the bottom of the tank, but her buoyancy issues remain.
Since Xanchi was moved to the ocean enclosure, Artemis has had full use of the white tiled tank and has taken to resting in the back corner next to the drainage pipe. Her condition remains stable and her appetite is good. This month, we added a weighted hula hoop as enrichment, which she frequently attempts to dive through.
Artemis’ condition remains stable. She continues to attempt retrieval of food items from the tank floor – her success at this depends upon the size of the food in question, and she remains unable to fully submerge.
Artemis’ favourite enrichment item this month has been the log, which she frequently scratches against her shell.
This month, we started to experiment with weights, to try to counteract the extra air trapped in Artemis’ shell. The weights were enclosed in bandage pouches stuck to her shell, allowing easy adjustments and removal. Artemis is tolerating the treatment well, but has not yet shown any signs of improvement in diving.
Intially, two weights of 0.5kg each were attached to Artemis’ caudal lateral scutes for a period of approximately one month. No change was observed, so in December, we increased these weights to 1kg on each caudal lateral scute. The increased weight initially slowed her down, but she quickly got back up to speed and is now making full use of her tank.
To encourage diving behaviour, we have started feeding from a PVC pipe approximately 2 feet in length suspended beneath a small buoy. She attempts to dive for her food, and is capable of retrieving food from the enrichment device to a depth of approximately 45cm beneath the surface.
The added weight to her carapace appears to have affected her technique of sub-surface food retrieval with the result that she is actually able to dive to shallower depths than before. However, the weights have balanced her resting position in the water to neutral, whereas previously at rest her carapace was elevated caudally above the surface.