Kapiti Island Nature Tours employees Manaaki Barrett and Skye Chadwick joined Sealife Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, Ngāti Kahu, NgāiTakoto and the Department of Conservation in returning a juvenile green turtle known as Calvin to his natural environment at Rangiputa last week.
Manaaki and Skye were there courtesy of the Environmental Tourism Award that Kapiti Island Nature Tours won in 2018.
Calvin had not been in good shape when he was found beached at Rangiputa 14 months ago, and was initially cared for at Auckland Zoo before he was transferred to Sealife Kelly Tarlton's, where his weight almost doubled to a healthy 20kg. He was last seen on Thursday heading for open water.
Sea turtles are not infrequently found by members of the public, most commonly on 90 Mile Beach. A DoC spokesman said a healthy specimen would never come ashore. Those that were rescued by DoC rangers were taken to Auckland Zoo then Sealife Kelly Tarlton's, in Auckland, for rehabilitation, with a success rate of around 40 per cent.
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Most turtle strandings are the result of dehydration, starvation, thermal shocks, and, increasingly, plastic ingestion.
Green turtles are found in tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate seas, but populations worldwide are in decline.