Gina Rescue Turtle

adult female Olive Ridley turtle (RB.LO.253), admitted 28 January 2024, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives

Weight / Length: 30.1kg / 61.0cm (on admittance)

Gina is a fully grown adult female Olive Ridley turtle rescued from a ghost net by staff from Anantara (Kaafu Atoll) on 28 January.

Upon admittance to our rescue centre at Landaa Giraavaru, our resident turtle veterinarian performed a thorough health examination. Despite being very strong and active, Gina was presenting with entanglement injuries to both her front and back left flippers, with bone exposure on the back flipper, and a broken front left humerus (flipper almost fully amputated by the net).

Sadly, the front flipper could not be saved, and we amputated on the day of admission. The protruding section of her humerus was also trimmed down from a jagged point to reduce the risk of damage to soft tissues growing over it as the wound heals. Upon debridement of her rear left flipper injury, it was observed that some healing had already begun and the remaining tissue looked healthy.

Gina continues to be strong, both her injuries are healing well, and she can dive and rest at the bottom of her pool, so as soon as her injuries finish healing she will be released back into the ocean.

GINA rescue Olive Ridley Maldives
GINA rescue Olive Ridley Maldives

January Updates

Gina spent only a short time in dry dock, as she was highly stressed being out of the water and at greater risk of further injury. We moved her to the white tank after a couple of hours, where she immediately began swimming. She demonstrates slight positive buoyancy with approximately 10% of her carapace above water, and occassionally is able to fully submerge for a short period of time. We believe that her buoyancy is likely the result of stress and hopefully will resolve within a few weeks.

We continue to monitor Gina closely for signs of deterioration, and regularly clean her wounds; she has shown great strength so far, and we believe that she will be able to make a full recovery.

February

Gina has continued to improve, with both of her wounds continuing to heal.

Progress has been slowed by her consistent lack of appetite; she frequently shows no interest in offered food of any kind, or makes a couple of attempts but shreds and drops the majority. Leaving food in her tank overnight rarely results in it being consumed.

Gina can sometimes be found resting on the floor of her tank, but is also regularly seen resting at the surface. It is unknown whether this is simple preference or because resting at depth is greater effort for her.

GINA turtle healing wounds Maldives

March

In the last month, Gina’s appetite picked up dramatically following the feeding of live crabs. Her injuries have also continued healing well, with the margins of her shoulder wound now closing rapidly and her rear flipper also showing progress, but has a persistent pocket which has not yet fully closed. The damage to her beak has also shown improvement, with the tissue
healing well and becoming significantly more pigmented.

Gina has developed an infection in the bone of her left marginal scutes. The dead tissue has been debrided away and she is currently part-way through a course of intramuscular Ceftazidime antibiotics. Once this course is complete, with the rate of healing Gina’s wounds are currently showing, it appears hopeful that she will be in releasable condition by the beginning of May.

GINA turtle injuries healing (March)

Gina’s wounds in March …

GINA turtle injuries healing (April)

… continue healing in April.

April

Gina has gone from strength to strength this month, with her poor appetite completely forgotten! She is now feeding very well on both fish and prawns. Her injuries have also continued healing well, with the margins of her shoulder wound continuing to close, although at a slower rate than during March. The pocket wound in her rear flipper is also still present, but appears to have become narrower at each debridement session.
Gina’s beak has continued to improve, and is showing significantly more pigment being deposited. She has now completed her course of intramuscular antibiotics and her infection has cleared, with healthy tissue growth occurring at the previously infected site.

May

Gina has continued to improve, with her rear flipper now completely healed and her amputation site continuing to close. Given Gina’s improvements, she will be ready for release at the start of next month, and we are planning to attach a satellite tag to continue our
tracking programme. Gina’s beak has also continued to improve and has now begun to deposit keratin over the healthy pigmented soft tissue.

8 June … Release Day!

Gina was successfully returned to the ocean on 8 June, with help from the school students of Baa Atoll.

Less than 24 hours after her release, we can see from the satellite data that she is already ~40km away from Landaa! (Tracking page).