ImalaRescue Turtle

adult female Olive Ridley turtle (RB.LO.xxx), admitted 2 January 2024, Noonu Atoll, Maldives

Weight / Length: xx.xkg / xx.xcm (on admittance)

On 2 January, we admitted a new patient to our turtle rescue centre at Landaa Giraavaru. Imala, an adult female Olive Ridley turtle, was discovered entangled in ghost gear in Noonu Atoll by staff members from Velaa Private Island.

Imala was extremely exhausted and dehydrated on arrival, and had suffered very severe laceration injuries from the ghost gear around her neck and right shoulder. Her front right flipper was swollen, indicating an infection had taken hold, and she had a heavy algal load on the majority of her carapace, indicating she had been trapped in the net for a long period of time. She also had an old amputation injury to her rear right flipper which was half-missing but fully healed (likely from a previous net entanglement).

We immediatley started Imala on a course of antibiotics, and put her in a shallow freshwater bath to help with rehydration. After giving her some time to recover from the stress of transportation, we then gave her 500ml of fluids into the subcarapacial sinus to combat dehydration. She was closely monitored for the first 48 hours, and barely moved during this time, only becoming more active from day 3 onwards. We replaced the water in her bath every day, and began debriding her wounds of the significant amount of dead tissue. After a few days, we increased the depth of water in her tank, and Imala responded by becoming more active, and began swimming. Despite this, she refused all food offered to her for almost 2 weeks.

Unfortunately, despite the antibiotics she was regularly receiving, Imalas right flipper worsened to such an extent that we decided an amputation was necessary for the best chance of survival. The amputation was performed on 15 January, and Imala was placed into a dry dock overnight during recovery from anaesthesia. The day following her surgery, Imala seemed much better, and actually ate all 65g of food that was offered.

The good news didn’t last long, and her wound refused to heal and began breaking down. During daily checkups and wound cleaning, the surgery site showed signs of infection despite aggressive antibiotic treatment. Eleven days after the amputation, on 25 January, another surgery was attempted to re-close the wound, but sadly, Imala passed away under anaesthetic.