By Peter de Graaf
Another ailing sea turtle has been found on Ninety Mile Beach - this time a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, which is being treated at Kelly Tarlton's aquarium in Auckland.
The turtle, dubbed "Lil Hawk", was discovered on September 18 at Scott Pt, just south of Cape Maria van Diemen, and handed in to the Department of Conservation next day.
It was described as "very sick" and had a heavy growth of algae and gooseneck barnacles on its shell. Staff at Kaitaia airport arranged a flight to Auckland.
As of yesterday, the turtle was showing signs of recovery, although it was still floating at the top of its tank. The barnacles, a sign it had been unwell for some time, had been removed. If it survives, it will stay at the aquarium for at least a month.
When turtles turn up on New Zealand beaches, they are already unwell. Usually turtles only come ashore to lay eggs and only on tropical beaches.
Of the nine sick turtles taken to Kelly Tarlton's to date, just three have recovered.
Lil Hawk is the second tropical turtle found on Ninety Mile Beach in a fortnight. "Trev", a green sea turtle, was found at Waipapakauri Ramp this month but died.
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) as soon as possible if you find a turtle on shore or any stranded or injured marine mammal.