juvenile Olive Ridley turtle (RB.LO.240), admitted 22 November 2023, N.Malé Atoll, Maldives
Weight / Length: 38.0kg / 62.7cm (on admittance)
On 22 November, we received a report from local villagers of two sea turtles entangled in ghost netting, floating inside the lagoon close to Kuda Villingili Resort (N.Malé Atoll). We immediately despatched a rescue team and brought the stranded animals to our Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at Kuda Huraa for urgent medical treatment. Special thanks to our Dive Team colleagues for their invaluable assistance in the rescue.
‘Ghost nets’ are discarded or lost fishing gear, drifting around the world’s oceans, which make up 10% of marine plastic waste. As the NE monsoon approaches, with currents flowing from east to west, more entangled Olive Ridley turtles drift into Maldivian waters from their breeding and foraging grounds in India, Sri Lanka, and SE Asia.
- Stelfox et al (2019). Untangling the origin of ghost gear within the Maldivian archipelago and its impact on Olive Ridley turtle populations. Endang Species Res 40: 309-320. [PDF]
- Stelfox et al (2015). High Mortality of Olive Ridley Turtles in ghost nets in the central Indian Ocean. BOMBLE Ecology-14: 1-23. [PDF]
Donatello is a juvenile Olive Ridley sea turtle (possibly a male) with a carapace measuring 60.8cm wide/62.7cm long (over the curve), and weighing 38.0kg. Upon arrival, Thais, our resident turtle veterinarian, gave him a full health check and started treatments.
Donatello was found to present an ideal to ‘skinny body score’, with altered buoyancy (cranial left positive), hypoglycemia, and mild dehydration, with soft tissue lesions, and a subtle crepitating respiratory noise. The net had been mostly entangled around the front left flipper, leaving two deep lacerations in the shoulder area with tendon exposure, large lacerations with fractures and exposure of the phalanges, a perforation towards the end of the flipper, and considerable tissue loss on the tip. The other flippers have superficial abrasions. Most lesions are in the process of healing while others are already healed, indicating this turtle has been entangled for a long period of time.
Donatello is active, and during swimming, the most damaged flipper was not being used initially. Following treatment, he has been improving range of movement every day, is already diving, eating and resting on the bottom of the tank. Considering the clinical signs observed and that these animals drift for thousands of miles before reaching the Maldives, Donatello is receiving treatment for dehydration, wound cleaning and topic treatment, splint on the flipper with bone fractures, systemic antibiotics, nebulization with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory.
Donatello is receiving treatment for broken phalanges (bones in the flipper) and tissue loss due to the entanglement; we continue to administer antibiotics and treat his anemia.
31 January 2024 … release day!
After all wounds were healed and blood results improved, Donatello was soon able to effortlessly dive and rest on the bottom. He had a healthy appetite, and made hunting crabs look easy!
Don was successfully released back into the ocean on the last day of January. 👋💙