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Rescued sea turtle is returned to wild

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/10/2016

Koha the turtle has been returned to the wild and a whale put on a display for the occasion.

The rescued hawksbill sea turtle was released from the NIWA research ship Tangaroa near Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands on Sunday.

Koha was found weak and emaciated near Dargaville more than two years ago and was nursed back to health at Kelly Tarlton's aquarium in Auckland.

The turtle "hitched a ride" home on the New Zealand research vessel, which left Auckland on Thursday for a 20-day scientific expedition in the area, about 1000km northeast of New Zealand.

"Koha was successfully released back into the wild today near Raoul Island. The team on board the vessel had become accustomed to their new crew member, so it was a little sad to say goodbye, but were all very happy to see #Koha safely returned home," Niwa said on Facebook on Sunday afternoon.

"Another special guest showed up for the send-off, a humpback whale - check out the photos of it breaching!!"

The name Koha was chosen to represent a gift being returned to the turtle's home in the Pacific Ocean.

NIWA set up a live stream so people could watch the turtle being released.

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