BY Lisa Lindblad
October 28, 2017
She tangled with ghost nets and lost her flipper. The pain we cause to other creatures, through thoughtlessness and arrogance, is tragic.
When we travel, we expand our minds and open our hearts, breaking the unconscious rhythm of our daily lives. And when we become aware of the world around us, we are compelled to stop our foolish ways.
When I was last in the Maldives, I visited Coco Palm, one of the islands in Baa Atoll. There is a resort here but, up a sandy path thick with tropical vegetation, is a one-room structure that sits next to seven large tanks shaded by tent-like tarps.
The Olive Ridley Project and Coco Collection opened the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in February 2017. It was all made possible by an official partnership formed between Coco Collection and ORP in 2015, as well as very generous donations from guests at Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu Resorts and other partners. The first fully-equipped marine turtle rescue centre in Maldives has laboratory and surgical facilities as well as a full-time resident turtle veterinarian, Dr Claire Lomas. The rescue centre can accommodate up to eight turtle patients at the time in seven tanks. Mohamed Didi, Chief Engineer at the Coco Collection, developed a fully-automated water-flow regulation system, which allows pre-programmed procedures for the tanks.
When I visited the center and photographed Coco Chanel, above, who is missing one of her flippers but doing extremely well, another turtle arrived by the boat from the Four Seasons Landaa resort. She will be added to the turtle patients who are in various stages of recuperation, some doing better than others. Not only do the turtles lose their flippers – oftentimes more than one – but in dragging these tangled ghost net masses along with them, they tear their lungs which, ultimately, prevents them from being able to dive. Bouyancy becomes the killer.
Dr. Claire, who had arrived only a few months prior to my visit, was hand carrying medicines from England in her luggage. She is not only the sole turtle vet, she tells me she is the only vet in the Maldives. She operates alone, a brave and capable woman.