September 07, 2017
On September 12, 2017, Elsa, a female juvenile Olive Ridley turtle estimated under 20 years of age, will become the fifth ‘flying turtle’ to travel from the Maldives by plane to begin a new life overseas.
Donated to St Petersburg’s Planeta-Neptun, Russia’s first Oceanarium, Elsa follows in the pioneering flipper-steps of her Olive Ridley cousins – Kerry, Zahiya, La Petite and Peggy: the original “Flying Turtles” who made Maldivian and European history in August 2016 when they became the first live turtles to be flown overseas from the Maldives for rehabilitation purposes, and the first Olive Ridleys to be represented in a European facility (Belgium’s Pairi Daiza Zoo).
Like her flying cousins before her, Elsa was a long-term resident of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Sea Turtle Conservation Program. She initially spent a year being cared for at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa having been found in North Male Atoll floating at the surface entangled in a ghost fishing net; her two front flippers so badly damaged they had to be removed. A year later in August 2014, with her buoyancy syndrome healed, she was transferred to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa Giraavaru where she remained for a further three years.
Deemed “non-releasable” (based on international standards), Elsa will make her epic journey to St Petersburg in September, accompanied by Sebastien Stradal – Landaa’s former Marine Discovery Manager and pioneer of the Flying Turtles Project – to ensure her welfare. She will be housed in an 8,600 sq. ft. tank, where she will play a vital educational role in keeping with the Oceanarium’s ethos.
Commenting on the donation of Elsa to Planeta-Neptun, Annemarie Kramer PhD, Landaa Giraavaru’s Marine Discovery Centre Manager said: “In an ideal world, we would return all of the turtles we care for back to the ocean to continue their life in a natural environment. But for turtles like Elsa, whose chance of survival in the wild is so low, the Flying Turtle Project offers improved long-term wellbeing and extended medical care in a more diverse and natural-feeling environment than we are able to offer at our Rehabilitation Centre. We are very grateful to Sebastien, the Maldivian…