Please help us raise money for Atoll Marine Centre to build larger tanks for the rehabilitation of our Olive Ridley Turtles.
We recently set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money through donations for larger tanks to be built in our Marine Centre. Atoll Marine Centre undertakes incredible work daily; rehabilitating rescued sea turtles in order to release them to the wild is one of the main aims of the centre. Other activities include running ‘Nature Club’ which involves educating children from local schools. More recently we have started a clownfish breeding programme with an aim to reverse decline of wild stocks in the Maldives in association with Finding Nemo. Our marine centre is expanding as we now have a mini-museum and a brand new lab to look after the sea turtles.
With all this going on we must stress that sea turtles are still being brought in due to injuries, or because people no longer wish to keep them as pets. Injuries in the ocean are mostly caused by fishing nets, which are a huge threat to marine life globally. In the Maldives we only use the pole-and-line methods to catch fish, however nets drift into the Indian Ocean from much further afield causing damage to local marine life. People take hatchlings as pets and often are kept in unsuitable conditions, which leads to a decline in the sea turtles health. Turtles are brought to us from neighbouring atolls if they are rescued from the ocean for rehabilitation, and in the end rewilding.
In December 2016 we received our first Olive Ridley turtle ad since then we have received another 9 in our care. All of these turtles have been brought to us with injuries so they need medical attention, suffering from lacerations from the nets, shell damage, or buoyancy syndrome. We currently have two 25kg Olive Ridleys in 2-meter tanks (our largest), and both are suffering from buoyancy syndrome. Buoyancy syndrome is a stress response to being caught in a net, the turtles inflate themselves with air to prevent drowning. Lola and Luna are two turtles that have been released into the wild, they were able to beat their buoyancy syndrome after 6 months. Nadia on the other hand has been with for 10 months and is still buoyant. She still has the air stuck between her shell and her organs so she cannot dive to get food and just floats at the top of the tank. To help with buoyancy syndrome we take our turtles swimming in the ocean for dive therapy. Due to the size of the tanks and the buoyancy syndrome we have found our Olive Ridleys scratching their faces and shells, and breaking their fins against the wall. To prevent this from occurring they have to be tied up in the tank, which further restricts movement. We need funding to be able to build larger tanks, more suitable for our Olive Ridley rescue turtles, so that they can swim more freely and practice their diving. Once the turtles within our care healthy we start the process to release them into the wild but we know bigger tanks would help with our Olive Ridley turtle rehabilitation.