This hotel in the Maldives has opened a turtle rehabilitation habitat

Siobháin Spear
Apr 1, 2020

One&Only Reethi Rah has opened a sanctuary to care for injured sea turtles.

In a digital world that is drowning out the positive stories with depressing COVID-19 updates, we really do need to take a moment to celebrate the amazing initiatives that are coming to life around us. And today, that uplifting story comes from the Indian Ocean, where One&Only Reethi Rah has partnered with The Olive Ridley Project charity to open up a turtle rehabilitation habitat.

The dreamy Maldivian resort has opened the first specialist turtle habitat in the North Malé Atoll, with the purpose of providing care for injured sea turtles that have been rescued from the surrounding ocean.

One&Only Reethi Rah has six kilometres of spectacular coastline, making it an ideal location to set up such a sanctuary. The resort’s island lagoon and surrounding reefs are home to a variety of marine life, including white-tip sharks, butterfly fish, Napoleon wrasses and endangered turtle species.

Endangered turtles

One&Only Reethi Rah’s Dive & Excursions Centre is the home of the turtle rehabilitation habitat; the sanctuary provides a specialist environment for injured turtles to recover while they are under the expert care of dedicated biologist.

The resort’s first turtle patient is a female named Azura, pictured above. She is estimated to be 15 – 20 years old and weighs 19 kilograms. Azura was found entangled in ghost nets by a Dharavandhoo resident in Baa Atoll last April and subsequently sent to a nearby rescue centre for treatment. Azura has recovered well from her surgery but as she is still suffering from buoyancy syndrome, she will spend some time at One&Only Reethi Rah’s rehabilitation habitat, under the watchful care of the resort’s resident Marine Biologist, before being released back into the wild once she is back to full health.

The resort has also welcomed Eve, pictured above; she a juvenile Olive Ridley sea turtle, who was found in the South Male Atoll entangled in a ghost net. She sadly lost her back right flipper; however, fortunately, she didn’t lose any of her front flippers. Eve has been recovering well with one of her front flippers healing, however, the other is still not working as efficiently. Eve receives daily physiotherapy from our Turtle Biologist to aid with her muscle development. Once Eve is using her flipper more frequently and efficiently, she will be released back into the ocean.

The Olive Ridley Project

The turtle rehabilitation habitat at One&Only Reehhi Rah

The Olive Ridley Project works to protect the turtle population of the Indian Ocean through research, awareness, education and the removal of ghost nets that drift with the current and trap marine wildlife.

Dr. Claire Petros, from the Olive Ridley Project added, “We are working towards building a number of rehabilitation centres in different locations within The Maldives for turtles requiring ongoing care. Partnering with One&Only Reethi Rah as the first resort in North Malé Atoll to build a rescue hub for turtles is a big step forward.”

One&Only Reethi Rah staff have rescued eight sea turtles found entangled in nets and has funded the complete medical care for each rescued turtle at the Olive Ridley rehabilitation centre in Baa Atoll.

Commenting on the opening of the rehabilitation habitat, Jan B. Tibaldi, General Manager of One&Only Reethi Rah, said: “this partnership is very special for One&Only Reethi Rah. We have been fortunate to have several female green sea turtles choose our beaches to make their nests for many years and we feel privileged to share our island with these wonderful creatures.”

Visiting the rescued turtles

Guests of One&Only Reethi Rah can join either of the two daily feedings at the rehabilitation centre to learn more about the turtles that are being cared for. They are also invited to suggest names for regularly sighted unnamed turtles at nearby reefs. The resort also has a number of informative and fun activities for children at the kids’ club, KidsOnly, where they can learn more about the ocean environment and how their actions can help protect the surrounding marine life.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on the way that many of us will plan our future trips, but the hope is that this pandemic will have awakened a desire to travel consciously and to give back to our natural world. When this pandemic passes, which it will, we’ll be ready to help the tourism sector recover and invest in travel to destinations, such as One&Only Reethi Rah, that are doing their bit to give back to the world, too.

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