Great success for Team Turtle last week - with three rescued and rehabilitated sea turtles released into the wild!

All three sea turtles – green sea turtle Delta, eastern pacific green sea turtle Taka and loggerhead sea turtle Puck, were brought to our Zoo veterinary hospital by the Department of Conservation after being found in a critical condition on Piha, Takapuna and Kaitaia beaches, respectively.

Arriving dehydrated, with low body temperatures and their own individual and urgent veterinary needs, each turtle was able to be stabilised and treated by our veterinary team before being transferred to our wonderful conservation partners at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium for the next stage in their care.


After an involved rehabilitation process, SEALIFE Kelly Tarltons were able to safely release the turtles into the ocean at Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve last Thursday, accompanied by the kaumatua of Ngātiwi, students from Te Kura o Waikare and Auckland Zoo veterinarian Kimberly and vet nursing assistant Claire.

"These three species are all endangered in the wild, so it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to work together to give these individual animals a second chance at life,” says Auckland Zoo vet nurse, Celine Campana, who has been involved in sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and field conservation for many years. “These are also very long-lived marine species, so given the right conditions out there in the wild, each of these three animals has the opportunity to go on and reproduce and contribute to the future of its species population – which is what we all hope they’ll get to do!”


Three rehabilitated sea turtles are released into Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s curator Andrew Christie says the annual turtle release is always an incredibly rewarding experience and this year was no different. “It’s always a bittersweet occasion when we release turtles back into the ocean after dedicating so much time and effort into rehabilitating them. Of course it is unavoidable that the team develop strong bonds and really care for these turtles, so today is full of mixed emotions as we say goodbye to our friends, but know that we release them with the best chance for them to thrive in the wild and live long healthy lives. We have given them another chance which they otherwise wouldn’t have had."

Sea turtles only come onto New Zealand beaches as a last-ditch attempt to save themselves, when they are already critically unwell. If you spot an injured or stranded sea turtle at the beach, please do not approach it. Call DOC immediately on their emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT so they can get the right people involved – like these amazing conservation-minded citizens did.