This wild green sea turtle patient was cared for at our Vet Hospital this week, but unfortunately was too ill to survive.

Our veterinary services manager James says “the first 72 hours of receiving a wild turtle patient are critical, and some turtles die in this period. We typically get turtles admitted after big storms, where the big waves wash weak turtles onto the beach”.

When sea turtles beach themselves in New Zealand they are near-death, and this is a last ditch attempt to prevent themselves drowning. This was the case for this green turtle which was found on a beach in Kaitaia. Any turtle found on a beach in New Zealand needs to be reported to the Department of Conservation immediately, so they can get the turtle the urgent veterinary help it requires. 

When turtles arrive into our care, our vet team immediately get to work rehydrating these weak, dehydrated and cold turtles with fluids and will warm them up slowly over a few days. We’ll also take blood samples and x-rays to understand what the underlying issues are and what other treatments are required. They’ll also have sand flushed from their eyes which happens as they get washed around in the breakers on their way to the beach.  

Most of the turtles have been sick for many weeks or even months before they arrive at our Vet Hospital. We can tell this by the amount of algae and barnacles growing on their shells (healthy turtles have very clean shells). The barnacles and algae die and fall off within a few days of being in our hospital.  

While this green turtle was not able to survive, we have had success with wild turtle patients in the past. Those that are able to recover from their illness or injury are then sent to our conservation partners SEALIFE Kelly Tarltons, for months of care and rehabilitation. Once they have gained weight and are back to full health they can be released back to the wild. You support this work every time you visit the zoo - thank you!