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Two Turtles Released in New Zealand by Team Turtle

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: March 23, 2021 10:40 pm

sea life kelly tarltons turtle release

Kibou the loggerhead sea turtle is prepared for release

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

A pair of rescued sea turtles have returned to the wild after undergoing rehabilitation at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium in New Zealand.

At the release this week the team who participated in the rescue were joined by kaumatua of Ngātiwai for the release of the two turtles in to the ocean off the coast of Tutukaka after receiving a karakia. Also joining the send off was Ocean Youth participants and Auckland Zoo veterinary staff. 

sea life kelly tarltons turtle release

Jessica Van De Pas helps to release a loggerhead sea turtle

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

The two released turtles are a loggerhead sea turtle known as Kibou and a green sea turtle dubbed Spock by rescuers.

Kibou was found stranded on Muriwai Beach and came to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s in October 2019 suffering from a severe shoulder wound and a nasty lung infection. He received veterinary care at the Auckland Zoo before being brought to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium to finish his recovery.

Spock was found on the same beach in September 2020 with injuries to the digits on both front flippers. These had to be amputated but this helped him to make a full recovery.

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While most sea turtles are associated with tropical waters, five of them are found in the waters around New Zealand.

According to Louise Greenshields from SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, the annual turtle release is always an incredibly rewarding experience and this year was no different.


“It’s always emotional when we release turtles back into the ocean as it’s a time for us to reflect on how far they have come during the rehabilitation process. Our team of Aquarists work with these turtles every day and form a genuine attachment so Kibou and Spock will certainly be missed but we wish them all the very best,” said Louise Greenshields.

“I would love to say that all turtles are as lucky as Kibou and Spock but unfortunately that’s not the case as there are significant threats facing turtles in the wild. Most of the turtles that come through our Turtle Rehabilitation Centre have been affected by human impacts of some kind, whether it be boat strikes, entanglement, plastic ingestion or habitat destruction. Our aim is to educate the public and encourage behavioural change.”

sea life kelly tarltons turtle release

Spock the green sea turtle soon after his release in to the ocean

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium work as part of a Team Turtle a partnership with Auckland Zoo and the Department of Conservation, with support from Air New Zealand.  They also operate New Zealand's only sea turtle rehabilitation center which has cared for over 50 turtles in the last 23 years.

“Providing the initial emergency veterinary treatment then follow-ups for these turtles that are critically ill when DOC first brings them to us, and working alongside our conservation colleagues at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s to help give these marine animals a second chance at life, is a real privilege and incredibly rewarding,” said Dr James Chatterton, Veterinary Services Manager at Auckland Zoo.


“Conservation is all about working together and sharing expertise to achieve the best outcomes for wildlife and Team Turtle is a fantastic example of this.”

Visitors to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium can see other rescued sea turtles in the Turtle Bay habitat where they complete their rehabilitation and act as ambassadors for the threats faced by wild turtles.

sea life kelly tarltons turtle release

Kibou (left) and Spock (right) the sea turtles before their release

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Learn more about Green Sea Turtles here – Green Sea Turtle Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium on their website – SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

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