Concern at turtle strandings on Ninety Mile Beach

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Koru, a green turtle, swims to freedom after being brought back to health then released by Kelly Tarlton's and the SEA LIFE Trust at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve earlier this year. Photo / Richard Robinson
Koru, a green turtle, swims to freedom after being brought back to health then released by Kelly Tarlton's and the SEA LIFE Trust at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve earlier this year. Photo / Richard Robinson

A record stranding of three turtles on Ninety Mile Beach in a week has marine life experts calling for people to keep an eye out for mounds that move on the sand.

A hawksbill turtle was found with a large crack along its shell, indicating it had been run over by a car. It was rushed to Auckland Zoo Vet Centre but died of lung injuries a day later.

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium staff have dealt with four turtle strandings in two weeks, three on Ninety Mile Beach and one at Napier - an unusually high number over such a short time, and also unusual at this time of year.

Aquarium curator Andrew Christie said the centre has successfully rehabilitated and released 33 turtles since 1991, but he hasn't seen strandings this early in the season since 2012.

"We're asking that, when you're at your local beach, please keep your eyes out for sea turtles that may have washed up on the beach.

We want to find these animals and get them into care as quickly as possible, to ensure they have the best chance of survival," Mr Christie said.

One of the recently stranded turtles is being treated by the veterinary team at Auckland Zoo Vet Centre. When well enough, it will be taken to Kelly Tarlton's for long-term rehabilitation and release if possible. Another is already in care at Kelly Tarlton's but the very sick Olive Ridley turtle found near Napier died a few days later.

"Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to save every turtle that becomes stranded as some are in much worse condition than others," Mr Christie said.

"However, the quicker they're identified by the public, the sooner we can get them treated and give them a fighting chance."

- Anyone finding a beached sea turtle should call the Conservation Department on 0800DOCHOT.

Turtle timetable:

Thursday July 14 (evening): The sick turtle found at Napier arrived at Auckland Zoo's Vet Centre.
Monday July 18: The turtle died.
Monday July 18: A green turtle was taken to Auckland Zoo after stranding at Ninety Mile Beach.
Friday July 22: A second green turtle and a hawksbill turtle arrived at Auckland Zoo's Vet Centre after being found separately on Ninety Mile Beach. The hawksbill had been run over by a car before being discovered.
Friday July 22: Kelly Tarlton's took one of the green turtles from Auckland Zoo as it was ready for long-term rehabilitation. The other green turtle will also go there when it is ready for rehabilitation.
Saturday July 23: The injured hawksbill died, with post mortem results revealing death was caused by severe bleeding in its lungs.

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