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Turtle Release

  • Tuesday 19th February 2013

Today Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium this week released 5 turtles back into the ocean at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve in the Bay of Islands.

We started our turtle rehabilitation programme here at Kelly Tarlton's back in 1995 to treat the growing number of sick or injured turtles being washed up around New Zealand's waters. To date we have treated and released 72 turtles.

All of the marine turtles found in New Zealand's waters are classed as endangered. Green turtles are the species we see the most here in our rehab unit, but we also treat hawksbill and loggerhead turtles.

The turtles come to us with a wide range of issues, from general poor condition, often due to the effects of pollution or having ingested rubbish in the ocean, or with injuries sustained from boat strikes and attacks by predators. Sadly, many of them suffer from issues related to human activity.

One of curatorial team, Andrew Christie, commented on the release: "There's nothing like it, watching them go off into the big blue. The divers are also looking forward to having the turtles released. When they are in the big tanks after being strengthened on fluids, muscles, squid and herring, the turtles nip the divers' fingers."

Before being released back into the wild the turtles are tagged. A green turtle, nicknamed "Fatty" by some of the divers, has been satellite tagged, allowing its journey to be tracked as part of a wider study into turtle movements.

The remaining four turtles to be released have been fitted with flipperidentification tags, which are used to identify them if the turtle is seen again.

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