On 12 February, staff here were alerted about a turtle found floating near Malindi. She had a spear gun wound on her head, fibropapilloma tumours on her neck and tail, an infection in her lungs and a lot of algae on her carapace, indicating a very sedentary turtle. We were concerned she lost the ability to dive. Her chances did not seem very good.
An initial set of X-rays were taken in Malindi, which showed that her lung infection was quite bad. For the first few days, she was listless, and we had to feed her a vegetable puree by inserting a tube right down into her stomach. But slowly, she began to get better, and we decided to name her Helen.
In order to assess Helen’s progress we took her for a sea bath to determine whether or not she could swim. Unfortunately, this first outing was not very promising, as Helen swam in circles and could not properly dive under water. She strongly favoured her right side, and swam on a tilt. However, we were happy to see that she was very lively in the water.
After being here for three weeks, Helen finally began to eat on her own and we began to collect her algae and sea grass. This was a huge relief, and we felt a big step forward in her progress. Since then, it almost seems like she is happier and is more active in her tank. We also took her for a second ocean bath. This time her swimming had improved a great deal, though she was still a bit lopsided and was having some difficulty coming up for air. She swallowed some water. Nonetheless, the experience was very promising, and we now believe her release back into the wild will be in the near future.
(photos of Helen to follow shortly!)