As a fantastic start to SeaWeek, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium has successfully released a green sea turtle back into the ocean after 11 months of rehabilitation.
The turtle named Smee was rescued from the Ōmokoroa region in April 2022 after it was accidentally hooked by a local fisherman and reported to the Department of Conservation.
The turtle – affectionately named after Captain Hook’s best friend – was initially triaged by the team at Auckland Zoo who found a second fishing hook had been ingested. Both hooks were successfully removed and Smee’s health has gone from strength to strength in SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
Smee has grown from 11.5kgs to 19kgs whilst in the care of the team, who were thrilled to release the turtle back into the ocean off the coast of Tauranga.
“It’s always very special to watch a turtle swim off into the distance after undergoing the rehabilitation process. Most of the turtles we see in our Turtle Rehabilitation Centre have been affected by human impacts of some kind, such as boat strikes, fishing hooks, plastic ingestion or habitat destruction. Our aim is to encourage the public to be mindful of the impact they are having on marine life.”Andrew Christie, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s
The team will be releasing additional sea turtles over the next couple of months.
The rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured sea turtles in New Zealand is a collaborative effort from Team Turtle, which includes SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, Department of Conservation, Auckland Zoo and iwi. Team Turtle urges people to report injured or stranded turtles to the DOC emergency hotline on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is thrilled to have reopened to the public following the recent severe weather events. As well as sea turtles, guests can discover a range of other marine and freshwater creatures at the aquarium including sharks, rays, sub-Antarctic penguins and more!