By: Ann Kunz
On Sunday 8 Dec 2020 at around 8pm a juvenile Green turtle was admitted into the care of uShaka Sea World turtle rehabilitation team. She had been found stranded on the beach approximately 1km north of Bhanga Nek with a large woven plastic sack wrapped around her left front flipper.
She was named Maia which means courage or bravery in Maori.
Although she was alert and responsive on admission, she appeared very tired. We administered fluids, removed a large portion of the bag and left her to rest for the night. It was evident that she would need to undergo surgery the next morning as she had lost 65% of her flipper as a result of the damage caused by the plastic bag.
The surgery was successful and a large portion of the necrotic tissue was removed without any blood loss. Blood samples and radiographs were taken to give us a better understanding of her current state of health.
Maia shows some symptoms of infection and has been placed on two courses of antibiotics to help in her recovery. We suspect from her initial radiograph images that she might have tried to bite the plastic bag which was caught around her flipper and in the process ingested pieces of plastic. This will be confirmed in the upcoming week/s.
Senior Quarantine Aquarist, Malini Pather was guarded when asked for a prognosis.
“Maia’s flipper was completely necrotic, we suspect that she had been entangled for a while before being found and we are not yet certain what infectious processes she is currently fighting. Turtles are however incredibly resilient creatures and are able to adapt with three flippers in the wild. We currently have two other resident turtles who have three flippers each, Tripod and Shelley, and they have both adapted very well. Maia is an exceptionally beautiful animal with an incredible fighting spirit and we are doing our best to help her recover” explained Malini.
Tripod is due for release in the next few weeks. Tripod was found in poor condition but has done so well over the last few years. Shelley is still recovering from surgery and will stay at the rehab centre until we are confident that she will flourish once released.
A big thank you to those involved and to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife ecologist Santosh Bachoo who drove for 14 hours to help Maia.
Maia Update – 14 January 2021
By: Ann Kunz
All we could do was surgically remove the sack and care for her wound.
Her flipper is all but completely healed and she is making good strides in adapting to her new life. Although at the moment she is swimming slower than other turtles her age, we have no doubt that in a couple of years, she will swim as powerfully and strongly as her contemporaries.
She will remain in the hospital under the watchful eyes of the aquarists until she is a little stronger before joining the turtles in the aquarium’s turtle lagoon.