An endangered sea turtle has found a new home in a UK aquarium | Daily News Byte

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The National Marine Aquarium, the largest exhibit of marine life in the United Kingdom, has officially welcomed Heidi, an Olive Ridley turtle rescued from the Maldives in 2018.

Heidi began a 26-hour trip to the aquarium in Plymouth, England in early November and spent her time in isolation from other animals. The gate separating Heidi from her new home, the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, was lifted on Tuesday and she was introduced to her tank mates for the first time.

“He hasn’t seen other large marine life in over 4 years so it will take him a while to get used to the stingrays and groupers already in the tank,” said Marcus Williams, curator of the aquarium and the Ocean Conservation Trust. An email statement.

“He has enjoyed swimming on the surface and playing in the water currents but it may be a while before he willingly dives down to explore the rest of the tank.”

After her initial rescue in 2018 from a ghost trap in South Male Atoll, or lost or abandoned fishing gear, Heidi spent four years at the Olive Ridley Project, the first veterinarian-led turtle rescue center in the Maldives, where she spent Surgery and rehabilitation.

Heidi’s injuries from the net were so severe that her left front flipper was amputated. He also no longer has movement in his right front flipper, so experts at the rescue center consider him essentially a double amputee.

Heidi is still able to get around using her back legs. But this reduced mobility will protect the 64-pound (29-kilogram) sea turtle from hunting and foraging for enough food and predators in the ocean. Unable to survive on her own, Heidi is unfit to be released back into the wild.

Heidi’s condition isn’t stopping her from making new friends, though — something her doctors hope she’ll continue to do in her new home.

“You come in the morning, and she’ll get up with the little flippers on her back and say good morning to you every day,” says Dr. Olive Ridley, head veterinarian of the Olive Ridley Project at Heidi’s time. Claire Petros said. Rehabilitation

“We couldn’t serve to release them like we did, so I hope people see how beautiful he is and realize that turtles have incredible personalities too.”

While Heidi was able to find her forever home, ghost nets and other ocean debris pose a threat to turtles and countless other marine species around the world.

Heidi swims on sea grass during rehabilitation with the Olive Ridley Project, a veterinarian-led turtle rescue center in the Maldives.

A 2018 study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a 1.6 million-square-kilometer (617,763-square-mile) collection of trash in the Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Texas — found that more than half of the area’s total plastic mass comes from nets, ropes and lines.

According to World Animal Protection, each year, more than 136,000 turtles, dolphins, whales and seals become entangled in abandoned nets or gear. Some of these gears take up to 600 years to break down, causing “tremendous suffering” to the animals caught in them.

“As humans, we have harmed this wild animal. (Heidi) got these injuries because of the ghost netting, and I think she’s going to be able to tell people the story of what’s going on with the other turtles out there,” Petros said.

Indeed, Heidi will serve as an ambassador for ghost net injuries at the National Marine Aquarium.

Sea turtles that receive a single amputation are usually released into the wild because they are still able to swim successfully with three flippers. Sea turtles are naturally very strong, and single amputees can benefit from the support of the water beneath them in their marine environment, so prosthetics are not needed.

Heidi underwent surgery at the Olive Ridley Project and spent four years rehabilitating there.

Prosthetics are not an option for Heidi or other double-amputee turtles.

A turtle has the same sensation in its shell as a human feels under a fingernail, Petros said, thanks to nerve endings protected by the top layer of the shell and the keratin that makes up our nails, respectively. A sea turtle amputee is immediately uncomfortable with the strap pressure required to hold the prosthetic flipper against its body.

“Even if you attach the prosthetic to what’s left of their flipper or to the amputated part, it doesn’t give it any functionality,” Petros said. “It’s just weight to them, it’s not really a thing.”

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