Lamcot Blog

August 14 | Sick Olive Ridleys Report

Lamu Marine Conservation Trust tagged an Olive Ridley on 17th March 09 accidentally caught by the fisherman. The turtle was very ill,could not even swim when we had to release her back to the sea.

The project had to take in the turtle for a treatment, and she was provided with all the project could do; feeding her with balance diet in every meal, proper medications and changing of water as required.

Fortunately her condition improved in the first three days of two weeks under Lamu Marines’ care, but then it worsen and we had to fly her to Malindi for more advanced treatment. Here is the report of our Olive Ridley from Malindi.

Rehabilitation report and Autopsy Results for Lamu Marine Conservation Trust

26th of April, 09 to the 2nd of May, 09
Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)
CCL – 53.2 Centimetres
CCW – 52.6 Centimetres
Tag number KE2619

General condition analysis

On admittance to the rehab centre the turtle was assessed looking at external body condition, in water turtle behaviour and responses was then assessed.

External appearance of the turtle and condition showed it to be Dehydrated and appeared sick.Once in water (50 centimetre depth) the turtle was suffering from floating syndrome. The carapace was soft particularly along the joint between the Lateral and the marginal scutes. After external analysis the turtle was taken for x-rays to determine if there was any internal damage or blockages

X-ray analysis

The x ray revealed numerous gas packages were lodged in the intestines which as attributing to its dehydrated and malnourished state.

Treatment and rehabilitation activities

Initial treatment consisted of;
• 60mls of re-hydration fluid
• de-gassing
• A series of 60mls of vegetable puree that had a combination of multi – vitamin, cod liver oil and calcium ( medication was administered 3 times daily)
• A dose of praziquantel, medicine that control blood flukes was served together with Metamide (medicine that stimulates the effect of intestine and de-gas (for expelling stranded gas in the intestines)

Response to treatment

1-2 days, swimming gentle on the surface using the rear flippers more to guide the body taking the targeted direction as she had 100% of one of the front flipper missing.

2-3 days, in the morning before feeding, she was resting still in a corner of the tank with half of the rear body seating on the base. She passed small slimy greenish defecate while feeding. She was buoyant and gently swimming when placed back in the tank.

3-4 days, she was exactly like day 2-3 only that in the evening whist relaxing on the surface the right side of the body was more submerged and appeared hanging at an angle.

4-5 days, in the same corner of the tank, she was resting at an angle with the right rear body more submerged in the morning. Passed small slimy defecate while taking her out of the tank for feeding. Again she was buoyant when placed back in the tank.

5-6 days, in the morning she was gently swimming on the surface and in circles. She was of similar behaviour in the afternoon and relaxing on the surface in the evening.

6-7 days, in the morning, the right rear body was resting on the floor of the tank and the head elevate onto the surface. More relaxed than usual even the time of feeding. In the evening, both rear flippers had come together tight and the right front flipper fold under the plastron / chest. Water in the tank was lowered to only the depth of covering the carapace and a towel placed under the head for easy breathing. She deceased in a little while after these efforts.

Results of rehabilitation

Despite the regular administration of medication and feeding which initially resulted in an improvement the patient died on Saturday 26th of April 2009. The belief is that the medication administered was too late to totally arrest the condition and whilst the turtle showed an initial improvement it was only in response to rehydration and feeding

Internal organs appeared normal. Rehab food was half way in the digestive system. Presences of few air packages plus very small amount of greenish liquefy food in the colon. The web tissues holding the veins and arteries that are connected to the intestines had lots of green colouring as opposed to brownish or creamy. This indicates presence of infection (Still gathering information what specific infection it is).
Presence of infection in the tissues connecting the intestines. Food was perfectly half way flowing system.

NB//: Due to the duration of ailment the turtle had undergone, she had a short time to allow the medication take effect.
If you require any further information reading the turtle, its treatment or autopsy please contact

Kahindi Changawa
Phone – 0728 994299
Field Manager
Local Ocean Trust- Watamu Turtle Watch