Young turtle found on Whatipu beach

16:00, Nov 09 2009
turtle
SANDY: This turtle died a few days later after being found partly buried on Whatipu beach.

The sight of a half-dead turtle on Whatipu beach took Gordon Miskelly by surprise.

The New Lynn resident was out for an early morning Sunday stroll when he spotted the ailing reptile.

It was the first time he’d ever seen one.

"We get all sorts of things out here from shark carcasses to bits of driftwood," he says.

"When I saw it, I called my brother who is in the Conservation Department. And he organised some rangers to pick it up."

The juvenile green turtle was taken to Kelly Tarlton’s where it died two days later.

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Dan Godoy is the first New Zealander to undertake an in-depth study into sea turtles and says the ocean’s currents can carry them further south than they would normally go.

"New Zealand’s temperature is considered too cold for their normal habitat," he says.

"But this year I’ve had about 20 reports of them in our waters and there have been several strandings."

Mr Godoy, who is part way through his doctorate studies on the species, says it seems younger turtles are coming here before returning to warmer waters to breed.

"This a region that they tend to come in their intermediate development stages when they are between six and 12 years of age," he says.

"But once they are 25 to 35 they will move to much warmer areas."

Mr Godoy says Dr Miskelly did the right thing to call in the experts.

"All seven species of sea turtles are endangered," he says. "And if one comes ashore it’s probably sick or injured so vets might be able to save it.

"But don’t handle them because they can carry diseases."

- Call 0800-362-468 on the Conservation Department emergency hotline if you see any stranded sea-life.

Western Leader