July admissions and turtle news

Updated: Jul 31

Contents

July Admissions

Meet Kalo

Hear about our new hatchlings

Roshi's release!

Centre sea turtle updates

Kaashidhoo fresh water turtle release

Turtle patrols

A constant threat facing sea turtles in the Maldives


Meet Kalo

We recently recieved Kalo, from the Olive Ridley Project, as he is a good candidate for the sea cage. He is a very large (nearly 34 kg!), strong, male Olive Ridley sea turtle. Kalo was entangled in a ghost net leading to the amputation of one of his front flippers. He was also bitten by a shark and washed into shore. As a result, he is also missing part of one of his back flippers. Kalo was admitted to ORP in January 2022, where he received fantastic veterinary care, dive rehabilitation and weight training. He was transported to AMC on the 27th of July for rehabilitation in the sea cage to resolve his buoyancy syndrome. The veterinary and marine biology team from ORP have informed our marine biologists that Kalo strongly attempts to dive on his rehabilitation swims so we are all very hopeful that after some time in the sea cage that he will be able to be released back into the ocean!


Hatchlings

As a result of the increased community awareness and youth education regarding the negative consequences of keeping sea turtles as pets, 5 green sea turtle hatchlings were surrendered to AMC in the period of a week. Many locals are uneducated about the needs of a sea turtle; therefore, many hatchlings are kept in freshwater in very small containers. This is fatal as their salt glands begin to shut down in fresh water, they become extremely stressed and don’t eat. Four of the hatchlings were kept in fresh water while in captivity and therefore they are undergoing saltwater rehabilitation with our marine biologists and should be ready for release within the next week, provided they are eating well and are healthy!


Roshi's release

Roshi, one of the five hatchlings we received this month, was thankfully kept in salt water during captivity prior to being surrendered to AMC. After assessing Roshi's health, strength and appetite over a few days our marine biologists were very happy with Roshi's condition and made the decision to release. When hatchlings make the initial scramble from their nest to the ocean, they "imprint" on the beach which they were born. The hypothesis for this process suggests that sea turtles register the the location of their birthplace by utilising the Earth's magnetic field, so they can later return (if females) to lay their eggs. As this process was already most likely denied to Roshi through being poached, AMC staff followed sea turtle husbandry practices and released the hatchling from the boat after laying down floats such as palm leaves and palm husks. Releasing from a boat increases the chance of survival as it decreases the amount of hazards they have to overcome (such as predation on the journey to the ocean) and provides natural shelter in which the hatchling would usually seek. Goodluck Roshi, your 1 in a 1000 to us!


 

Centre sea turtle updates

Olga

Olga has been working really hard to overcome her buoyancy syndrome. We have been taking her on frequent sea swims, as well as spending a week in the sea cage which she loved! We’re hoping that over the new few months, with calmer weather, we will be able to leave her in the sea cage for a longer period of time so that she is able to build up the strength to swim against currents and hopefully reduce her buoyancy issues.


Tom

Tom has been enjoying lots of sea swims this month. In an effort to make life a little more interesting within the centre we placed a tunnel in his tank for him to interact with and he has been loving it! We often find him hiding in his tunnel away from everyone, enjoying some peace and quiet!



Raskan

Raskan went on her first ocean swim since she arrived in April. She has been making a real effort to dive, and interact with the other marine life. We are still treating the sores that are on her carapace, however they’re improving really well which is great! We will continue to get her out in the ocean for more sea swims to further improve her diving and reduce her buoyancy issues.


Hope

Hope has been busy eating all the live crabs, seagrass and cabbage that she can get her flippers on. With the many volunteers we have at the moment, she has been receiving all the love and affection from the newbies, even sometimes receiving an extra crab on crabbing night!




Biscuit

We have been adding toys into biscuits' tank to bring a little enrichment to his life and the response he has given has been great! We often find him relaxing at the top of his tank, laying within the floating square. When he isn’t interacting with his enrichment toys we find him sleeping on the bottom of the tank.



Donatello

He has become the crowd favourite with visitors that pass through our centre, he likes to get really close to them then splash everyone with his flippers. When he is not goofing around, we find him at the bottom of his tank, devouring his plate of seagrass in under 10 minutes. He has also really been enjoying eating cabbage and live crabs this month.


Laura

Laura is now enjoying some much-needed alone time after sharing his sea cage with Xena. Having the sea cage all to himself means an abundance of fish to eat just for him! Being a double-amputee we are so impressed with how well he can move through the water, he continues to get stronger every day, proving to us just how resilient sea turtles are!




 

Above (left): Nattu and Kanma before release; (Middle): the first steps of freedom; (Right): staff and volunteers transporting the two fresh water turtles to Kaashidhoo


Kaashidhoo fresh water turtle release

This month we travelled to the beautiful island of Kaashidhoo to release two fresh water turtles which were surrendered to the centre after being kept as pets. Fresh water turtles are often taken from the wild due to them being so slow moving and therefore easy to poach. In the Maldives, islands with a natural fresh water supply are scarce making it difficult to release fresh water turtles. The Kaashidhoo Wetlands is one of three islands in the Maldives which hosts native populations of the endangered and protected Maldivian Black Tortoise (locally known as Kanzu Kahambu). This is largely due to the high quantity of vegetation such as screw pine and breadfruit in the area. This site was of special significance to release the fresh water turtles in our care, as 42 hectares of the wetlands are classified as protected by the government. We were happy to see these two, who we called Kanma and Nattu (after Atoll Marine Centre's founders) free at last, at such a beautiful, natural location.


 

Did you know?


Above: A Hawsbill sea turtle spotted whilst scuba diving in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Image taken and supplied by Mohamed Mamdhoooh (instagram: @mumdhuh).


Atoll Marine Centre contributes to the Internet of Turtles which is a global-scale database which includes nesting maps for all marine turtle species. When our marine biologists go diving or snorkelling and encounter a sea turtle, identification images are taken of the right, left and top scale patterns on the turtles head. Every sea turtle has a unique scale pattern, much like a human fingerprint. By comparing sightings of turtles which may already be in the database we can determine the migratory routes and feeding grounds of sea turtles worldwide.

Have some good sea turtle images? Send them in to marine@naifarujuvenile.org


 

Above (left): Turtle green sea turtle tracks, Above (right): Volunteers examining the tracks


Turtle patrols

Our marine biologists have been patrolling Kanuhura and the neighbouring uninhabited islands while Six Senses Kanuhura is under renovation. This month we were excited to find one green sea turtle track! Unfortunately under closer examination, it seems as though she crawled all the way into very dense shrubbery and then decided to abandon an attempt at nesting, deeming the activity as a "false crawl". Volunteers learnt how to successfully distinguish between an "up" and a "down" track and how to interpret whether or not the nest may have been successful. We are hopeful that more females may choose these locations to nest in the coming months!


 

A constant threat facing sea turtles in the Maldives

Above: ribs and vertebrae of a sea turtle, which was most likely killed for the consumption of meat


Although this saddens us to share - it is unfortunately the sad reality of one of the threats which face sea turtles in the Maldives. On excursion days our staff have repeatedly found parts of sea turtle rib cage and vertebrae. It is still common practice for many Maldivians to kill sea turtles for the consumption of turtle meat. This once was a common, traditional practice, however with the quantity and variety of imported goods available in the Maldives in addition to the fact that all sea turtles species in the Maldives are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered - this is now illegal. The isolation and scale of the many atolls however makes it very difficult to patrol and manage. We hope with community education the next generation ends this practice.





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