Tuatara Settle in to Their New Digs at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 19, 2020 11:40 am

Tuatara SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's

A tuatara explores it’s newly renovated enclosure

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

The four tuatara housed at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand have moved in to their new digs after their exhibit was refurbished. This refurbishment took place in the lead up to conservation week.

Keepers at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium worked with the Department of Conservation to ensure that the exhibit is as close as possible to the natural habitat of the tuatara. The new habitat also includes updated educational information to help introduce these unique reptiles to guests.

The tuatara is only found in New Zealand and is the only species in their group, Rhynchocephalia. This unique group of reptiles has been around for 200 million years and roamed the earth at the same time as the dinosaurs.

Tuatara SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's

The newly renovated tuatara enclosure

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s is home to four tuatara which arrived in 2016. Tuatara are long lived and may survive for up to 100 years.

The tuataras at the aquarium came from Takapourewa Island (D’Urville Island) which is located at the Northern end of the South Island.

“The tuatara have been at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s since 2016, acting as ambassadors for their species and helping us educate visitors on the way tuatara live in New Zealand, what threats they face in the wild and how we can help support these incredible native animals,” said Felix Berghoefer, Lead Aquarist at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s.

“Tuatara were once widespread on the mainland of New Zealand. Sadly, introduced predators like rats, stoats, feral cats and possums have made it too dangerous for them now on the mainland, except in predator-free sanctuaries including some islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.”

Tuatara SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's

A tuatara with its keeper at the aquarium

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

From August 15th-23rd New Zealand will celebrate conservation week/Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa. This week encourages New Zealanders to see nature through new eyes. This year you can engage with the celebrations online.

Kirsty Prior, Operations Manager for the Department of Conservation said; “Getting up close to some of our unique and most engendered species in the wild can be a challenge. We are grateful to our wonderful partners at Kelly’s who make it much easier, especially to see the tuatara, the dude of the dinosaur age.”

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is currently closed to the public due to Alert Level 3 restrictions. Aquarists continue to care for the animals at the aquarium and you can continue to meet them online with the virtual aquarium. You can check that out here – SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Virtual Aquarium.

Learn more about the tuatara – Tuatara Fact File | The Animal Facts

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