Two Olive Ridley turtles and one Hawksbill turtle that were trapped in a ghost net (abandoned/discarded fishing nets) were rescued at Juhu beach on Monday morning. Two of the three turtles have a damaged front flipper each and will need an amputation.
Ghost nets are fishing nets discarded by fishermen at sea after they develop holes or snags and are no longer useful for fishing. However, useless as they are for fishermen, once discarded at sea, the nets are death traps for marine life that get entangled in them and are unable to break free of the strong plastic mesh, which eventually leads to their death or serious injuries.
On Monday morning, Sanjay Singh, a gardener at one of the Juhu beach gardens, found three sea turtles entangled in a net washed ashore. Singh cut the fishing net using a knife and freed the three turtles. He then took them to Juhu police station on the beach.
The police then contacted Pawan Sharma founder of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), an organisation that rescues wild animals. Sharma contacted and coordinated with local volunteers and the Forest Department in the rescue operation.
The volunteers ensured the turtles were not dehydrated and the Forest Department made sure that the wild reptiles were shifted to the Airoli Transit Centre for treatment. "As soon as we received information, our volunteers and marine response team rushed to the spot and took the three turtles to veterinarian Dr Rina Dev. She checked the three turtles and gave them first aid. The three turtles were then sent to Airoli Transit Centre for treatment. However, we have found out that a front flipper of two of the three turtles will need to be amputated, as they are damaged. We will review the three for 48 hours, before conducting further treatment surgery. After that, we will watch them for at least two months. Once they have fully recovered, we will release them in the sea," said Harshal Karve, a marine biologist with Mangrove Foundation.
Dr Rina Dev, the wildlife vet at the centre, said one of the Olive Ridley turtles and the Hawksbill turtle are critical. The third one, also an Olive Ridley turtle, has injuries on its front flippers. "After reviewing their injuries, it seems they were stuck in the net and were on the surface for weeks. All the injuries are old, which means these deep sea animals have been unable to dive and feed themselves. They are emaciated. The Hawksbill has a necrotic flipper and the flipper of the more serious Olive Ridley is also very badly damaged. They will need to be amputated. While the two Olive Ridley turtles responded to food and ate, the Hawksbill turtle did not. For now, we'll observe and review them for 48 hours, and stabilise them before conducting the surgery, as they have been under stress for a long time. After that, they will take a couple of months to recover,” she said.