Storm washes turtle ashore

Sick visitor given TLC at Kelly Tarlton's

VANITA PRASAD
Last updated 14:40 17/08/2011
Vanita Prasad

A turtle that washed up on Karekare Beach is in the care of Auckland's Kelly Tarlton's.

Turtle
VANITA PRASAD/Western Leader
LUCKY TURTLE: Kelly Tarlton's curator AJ Christie and the green turtle found on Karekare Beach.

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He's endangered, he's sick and he's lucky he got inside before this week's big freeze.

A three-year-old green turtle was found in a ragged condition on Karekare Beach in Sunday's stormy weather and was taken to Kelly Tarlton's for emergency treatment.

Neil and Debbie Bowman were visiting the beach with their niece Cindy and two dogs when they discovered the  visitor.

''For all intents and purposes he looked dead and I thought: 'Oh dear'," said Neil Bowman.

''But when I went to pick him up gently his eyes opened and his front flippers started going for it as much as he could manage.

''I was wondering if I should let nature take its course but at the same time I was mindful that turtles are tropical creatures and this guy probably shouldn't be here.''

He decided to stay with the turtle while his wife and niece went searching for help.

They found some Karekare Surf Club members and the turtle was taken back to the surf club while calls for help were made.

The turtle was taken to Kelly Tarlton's to receive emergency treatment.

Curator AJ Christie says the turtle was in a very bad condition when he arrived.

''He'd no muscle left on him and he'd lost a lot of weight.

''Right now he has a 30 percent chance of survival but I've seen worse guys pull through.''

Christie commended the actions of the Bowmans and the surf club members.

''They did the right thing and they got to him in the nick of time.

''If he was out there any longer he would have certainly died, especially in this cold weather.''

Christie says green turtles  can live to 150 years old. They are listed as endangered in many areas of the world.

''I've seen a lot die because of plastic in their stomachs.''

Christie suspects the turtle had been ill for months before he washed up on the beach.

''He has a lot of algae and barnacles on him which means he's been floating around for maybe months before he's been found.''

Staff at  Kelly Tarlton's Turtle Rehabilitation Programme will spend the next week trying to rehydrate and feed him.

Christie says if he pulls through it could be months before he's released.

''It depends on how fast he recovers and getting him into the water when it's warm and the currents are right.''

Christie says since the green turtle was found two more turtles have washed up in the polar blast.

An olive ridley sea turtle was picked up by Conservation Department at Houhora in the Far North and a hawksbill turtle was found near Dargaville.

Both have been brought to Kelly Tarlton's which often looks after injured turtles.

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- Western Leader

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