A black sea turtle found washed up on Takapuna Beach this week should be swimming in the waters of Costa Rica or the Galapágos Islands.
The wild sea turtle is under the care of turtle experts at Auckland Zoo after it was recovered by the Department of Conservation rangers from the North Shore beach yesterday.
Head of Veterinary Services, Dr James Chatterton at Auckland Zoo said the 26kg turtle with a 65cm shell arrived collapsed, dehydrated, with a body temperature well below what it would be in its natural environment.
The turtle's temperature was 16 degrees when it should be 24 degrees. It had scrapes to its underbody and a wound to the top of its shell.
"This turtle species is naturally found near Costa Rica and the Galápagos Islands, so is a very long way from home, and the next three days are going to be critical for it," Chatterton said.
"Our priority is to get it stabilised and we're doing this by very slowly warming him/her up by a couple of degrees each day until it's back to its normal 24 degrees."
The turtle was being hydrated with fluids, given pain relief and other medications in hope of re-hydrating and re-energising its body and getting the liver and kidneys functioning again.
Zoo staff also took x-rays to understand if there were any other issues and if any disease was present.
If all goes well with the turtle it would eventually be moved to Kelly Tarltons for further care and rehabilitation and then released.
DOC ranger Gabrielle Goodin said anyone who found a turtle on a beach should keep it safe from predators and not attempt to refloat or rescue it, but call 0800 DOC HOT.