Turtle Rescue & Release
Turtle Rescue & Release 25. February 2019
Ruby, the juvenile Olive Ridley turtle, was found next to our wedding Champa tangled in a plastic jute sack, which had become wrapped tightly around her front flipper and neck in December 2018.

Luckily she was spotted floating on the surface and rescued by the Popler family (David, Beth, Grace and Luke) who brought her ashore to our Marine Biologists, who were then able to untangle her and provide cleaning and care for her wounds. After a night of rest and re-hydration, Ruby was transferred to the turtle rehabilitation centre at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, where she will be able to recover fully under the care of the Reefscapers team and be released back to the big blue soon.

Photo credit: David Popler.

Photo credit: David Popler.

Ruby with Marine Biologists Sarah and Tiana and Beth, David, Luke and Grace.
Photo credit: David Popler.

Ruby on the way to Four Seasons Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) are the smallest species of sea turtle and are a species not usually encountered on Maldivian reefs, as they have a pelagic (or open ocean) lifestyle. Unfortunately, because they spend a lot of time foraging in the open ocean they often come into contact with marine debris such as ghost nets (discarded or lost fishing nets) and plastic bags or sacks which they can subsequently become entangled in. They then drift with the ocean currents often ending up here in the Maldives.

This rescue is, unfortunately, one of many that regularly happens around the Maldives, and the rest of the world. It just goes to show the impact that marine litter can have on our wildlife and the importance of reducing our waste and plastic usage. Ruby was very lucky to have been found… many are not.

After three months of rehabilitation, the day for Ruby to finally return home arrived. On the 30th of January, Ruby was released from the beach where she made a dash into the ocean and swam off into the sunset.

Ruby making her way to the ocean.

During her time ‘on land’, Ruby was under the care of the Reefscapers team at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa where she received daily care. Aside from her wounds, Ruby also suffered from buoyancy issues and could not dive properly. After time and the temptation of food, Ruby slowly regained her diving skills. Her infected wounds were also treated and cleaned daily.

Ruby in her rehabilitation pool just before release.

We’re so thankful that the Popler family found Ruby in time and took action to free her and get her ashore. Also a big thank you to the Reefscapers team for taking such good care of Ruby and helping with her speedy recovery! We wish her the best of luck and hope she avoids any more bags or fishing nets in the ocean!

This combined article was first published on Gili Lankanfushi Maldives’ marine biology blog – Part 1 & Part 2.