For the last eight years, the centre had around 200 turtles admitted with 60 per cent of them successfully being returned to the sea.
Mumbai: The Dahanu Sea Turtle Transit Centre, which treats sick and injured turtles from across the state, has finally got what it has been seeking since its inception in 2011 — a new mechanised filtration unit for cleaning up the water in which these animals are kept.
A visit to the centre by The Asian Age found that a turtle from the Tarapore-wala Aquarium in south Mumbai that was sent here in a critical condition after getting afflicted with a stomach infection is stable now. Two other turtles from the aquarium had died due to the infection on May 24 and May 31 after contracting stomach infection over a week.
For the last eight years, the centre had around 200 turtles admitted with 60 per cent of them successfully being returned to the sea. Over last two months, eleven sea turtles — Olive Ridley and two green sea turtles — were rescued by the centre, out of which the green sea turtles died later. Presently, nine are being treated, but volunteers and turtle veterinarians stated that the centre needs at least 20 water tanks along with professional filtration units for speedy treatment of the turtles and preventing the spreading of diseases.
Presently, the centre has two large water tanks, of which one is used to pump in sea water, which is filtered and goes to the adjacent tank of the same size. There are ten Olive Ridley turtles in the tank, which are under treatment. Another Olive Ridley turtle with an injury to its flipper was in a smaller tank. The turtle suffers from a floating syndrome.
“This is why we need at least 20 tanks here. This Olive Ridley bites other turtles, which is why we have kept it isolated. If an infected sea turtle is placed in the same tank with the others, the remaining ones may also contract infection. We have even had 50 injured sea turtles at a time,” said Dhawal Kansara, a volunteer at the centre and wildlife warden for Palghar district. The centre at present has five water tanks, which it got through a donation.
“Separate tanks for each turtle would also help in determining excreta and amount of food taken, which would indicate health. Now when they are placed together in one tank, it is hard to know if each turtle is feeding properly,” said Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, a reptile veterinarian.
Mr Kansara elaborated that professional filtration units for each tank is also needed as it would expedite the water filtration process and help volunteers treat the sea turtles better. “It was only two months ago, when this mechanised filtration unit was donated to us. We have been urging the forest department to provide us separate normal-sized water tanks for each turtle with a filtration unit for each tank. For the last seven years we have been working with a manual unit made by us, but upgrading its components each time is both time-consuming and expensive. We want to dedicate most of our time in treating turtles which is often delayed due to lack of amenties,” he said.
The mechanised filtration unit has inbuilt disc filter, activated carbon, polypropylene filter and UV filter. As per the mangrove cell, it has allocated Rs 25 lakh for the centre’s revamp which will be completed by this year.