Today I would like to introduce to you Victoria, a juvenile Olive Ridley Turtle, who was recently discovered floating in our lagoon at Soneva Jani by a guest and one of our watersport guides.
The Maldives is home to 5 of 7 species of sea turtles, Olive Ridleys included. However, despite being the most abundant species, they are very rarely sighted during snorkeling and diving trips, preferring instead to spend the majority of their lives foraging in deeper, oceanic waters. For this reason, when we found little Victoria, we knew there was something very wrong.
Victoria, who weighed just 3.75kg, was experiencing buoyancy issues, unable to dive down, and had quite clearly been floating for a long time due to the plethora of barnacles covering her carapace. This is a very common problem in rescued turtles, and is caused by trapped air in the intestines or the lungs. This can result from infections (such as pneumonia), tears to the lungs, infections of the gastrointestinal tract, and injuries to the spine, to name a few causes. This poses a big problem for the turtle, because it:
- Prevents them from being able to dive down to eat,
- Puts them at increased risk of being caught/predated upon,
- Increases the chances of becoming caught in fishing nets,
- Increases chances of being struck by marine vehicles.
After we had identified that Victoria was suffering from this problem, we safely wrapped her in a wet towel and placed her in a small box where she quickly fell asleep, exhausted from the long journey. After spending some time trying to find a rescue center with enough space to take her on, I received a phone call from the Marine Biologist at Naifaru Juvenile, who were willing to come all the way from Lhaviyani atoll to collect her!
The team at Naifaru Juvenile regularly updated me with her progress, suspecting that Victoria is having buoyancy issues due to a case of pneumonia. She has been set on a course of antibiotics, has very quickly regained her appetite, and appears to be on the mend! The buoyancy problem can take anywhere from a few days to a year or more to resolve, however due to her very small size, it is expected that she will be able to overcome this problem fairly quickly.
Unfortunately, this story is not an uncommon one. Victoria is our 6th rescue turtle at Soneva Jani in the space of 5 months. If nothing else, this is a stark reminder to us all, to always keep on the look-out for injured marine life and ghost nets. Take care to alert the resident marine biologist if you ever see something of this nature, or anything suspicious in the water or on the shore!
To discover more please visit: www.soneva.com