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The Olive Ridley Project (ORP), founded in 2013, is a charity registered in England & Wales and in the Maldives whose mission is to protect sea turtles and their habitats through rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education and outreach. The name ‘Olive Ridley Project’ is testament to the charity’s humble beginnings of documenting olive ridley turtle entanglements in the Maldives. Although they have since expanded their mission, their name remains the same as a reminder of where it all started!

In January 2015, we at Coco Collection announced our official partnership with ORP, with an aim to help injured sea turtles through medical intervention and intensive rehabilitation. 

To that end, in February 2017, we opened our first Marine Turtle Rescue Centre, here at Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu, which at the time of opening, was the first fully-equipped, veterinary-run rescue centre for sea turtles in the Maldives. Since its inception, the centre has cared for and rehabilitated sea turtles with grievous injuries, often sustained from ghost net entanglement, all across the country. 

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

The Rescue Centre houses a veterinary clinic complete with a laboratory, X-ray and ultrasound machines, an endoscope and surgical facilities.

The turtle patients spend their recovery period in tanks, all seven of which are supplied with fresh seawater. The resident turtle veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse take care of the turtle patients along with a team of interns and volunteers.

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

Additionally, we offer internships for Maldivian nationals at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre.

The purpose of the internship program is to strengthen local capacity to care for and conserve the sea turtle population.

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

Injured turtles may require stitches, or sometimes surgery. Unfortunately, flipper amputations are common due to the severe lacerations caused by ghost net entanglement.

Other times, proper nourishment, buoyancy treatment, dive training or a course of antibiotics is enough for the sea turtles to recover and be released back into the wild.

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

The Rescue Centre also welcomes school children from local schools to visit.

children get an opportunity to observe sea turtle patients, learn about treatment of the various injuries sustained by the turtles, as well as basic veterinary medicine.

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

The guests at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu not only get an opportunity to visit the sea turtle patients and watch live feeding, they also often get to join the veterinary team on the happy occasion of patient releases.

Once the sea turtle patients are deemed fit for their return to the wild, ORP and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu organise a release, which the guests can observe either from the beach or from a boat, depending on how the turtle patient is to be released.

To carry a souvenir home, guests can also purchase a ghost gear bracelet, handmade by our volunteers at the Rescue Centre from ghost gear recovered with entangled turtle patients. This is also a good way to support sea turtle protection, as not only are the funds from the sale utilised in the care of sea turtles, but every ghost net out of the ocean is a possible deterrent to sea turtle entanglement. Guests also have the opportunity to adopt the turtle patients to support their care and rehabilitation.

ORP Marine Turtle Rescue Centre

Science at The Rescue Centre

The Rescue Centre is also the site of ORP’s exciting new satellite tagging research project, called #ORPTrack. The initiative aims to find out where our turtle patients go after we release them and to uncover and understand the feeding habits of olive ridley sea turtles. Surprisingly, little is known about olive ridleys since they spend most of their time in the open ocean, and this is where ORPTrack can help fill crucial gaps in sea turtle research.

The satellite tags allow the tracking of turtles for up to a year and the data gathered from these tags is consistently monitored, recorded and analysed by ORP. The long-term goal is to use these findings towards designing future conservation strategies.

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