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Releasing Koha the turtle at Raoul Island

Releasing Koha the turtle at Raoul Island

by the Kermadec expedition team
Sun, 23 Oct 2016

During the middle of last night we arrived at Raoul Island. We began by testing the Deep Towed Imaging System (fondly known as “DTIS” which is pronounced Deetis). The night consisted of testing the camera system and deploying one of the large fish traps.

At dawn we were greeted by a myrid of humpback whales breaching and splashing around. This was quite a sight to behold, and not something I expected to see.

We have had a special voyager on the trip with us – Koha the hawksbill turtle, who has been waiting patiently for our arrival at Raoul Island.

Koha’s final swim in the tank on the deck of Tangaroa.

© Amelia Connell, The Pew Charitable Trusts

A release time for Koha was set for about 10am. When this time came around Koha was loaded back into its special transport box (which is a bit smaller and more movable than the one it’s spent most of the trip in).

Koha being loaded into the boat at Raoul Island, before being released back into the wild.

© Amelia Connell, The Pew Charitable Trusts

From the deck of Tangaroa the box and turtle were loaded into the smaller boat and then lowered over the side. The release team then headed close to Raoul Island so that upon release Koha could see land and orientate itself, rather than potentially getting lost in the open ocean.

The boat taking Koha close to Raoul Island in order to relase it near land.

© Amelia Connell, The Pew Charitable Trusts

The release was successful, with Koha swimming down from the surface to sit on the bottom for a little while, and then after several minutes hanging out on the bottom it took off, happy to be back in the wild again.

Koha being released into the waters off Raoul Island.

© Hamish McCormick

We had become accustomed to having Koha on board, so it was a little sad to say good bye – but it is definitely for the best, and we’re happy the we could successfully release Koha at Raoul Island.

  • Post by: Kermadec expedition team

    The Kermadec Ridge expedition is a multidisciplinary expedition to explore the waters around the Kermadec Islands. Expedition participants are from NIWA, the Auckland Museum, Te Papa, the University of Auckland, Massey University, the Department of Conservation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.