A rescued turtle with only three fins, which would not have survived in the wild, is settling into its new home at the National Marine Aquarium.
Plymouth Aquarium has welcomed Heidi, a 29kg male turtle rescued from South Male Atoll in the Maldives.
The Olive Ridley turtle, with only one front flipper, was discovered entangled in a ghost net, a fishing net that has been abandoned, lost or thrown into the ocean.
He had deep wounds on both front flippers and unfortunately the left front flipper had to be amputated.
The remaining anterior flipper has suffered extensive damage to muscles, nerves and blood vessels, so it is non-functional, meaning the animal would not have survived in the wild.
However, the turtle’s injuries didn’t stop him from being an adept swimmer and diver.
He’s quite the acrobat, often showing off by flipping upside down and twisting around to catch chunks of fish.
Marcus Williams, Curator at the Ocean Conservation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to give Heidi a home in our Great Barrier Reef tank.
“In addition to enabling our audience to interact with this wonderful animal, we will be able to educate about the dangers of ghost nets and the importance of conservation efforts around the world.
“It has been an amazing effort to get Heidi safely to Plymouth, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of some dedicated organisations, including Olive Ridley Project, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, IAG Cargo, JCS Livestock, Trans Maldivian Airways and British airways.”
The 65cm turtle underwent surgery and spent four years at the Olive Ridley Project, a charity that does vital work to rehabilitate turtles trapped in ghost nets.
Through their partnership with Coco Collection, the Olive Ridley Project has created the first vet-led turtle rescue center in the Maldives, where Heidi lived before being transported to her new home.
Landing in the UK in early November, Heidi spent a few weeks in an acclimatization tank at the National Marine Aquarium to adjust properly to his new home before being transferred to the aquarium’s Great Barrier Reef tank.
Dr Claire Petros, Chief Veterinarian at the Olive Ridley Project, commented: “We are thrilled that our long-term patient, Heidi, has arrived in her forever home at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, England.
“Sadly, Heidi would not have been able to return to the wild as she lacks the use of her remaining fore flipper and as such would not have survived in the ocean.
“He has such an incredible personality and we thought he would make a fantastic ambassador, raising awareness of the turtle face threat posed by ghost nets around the world.”