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Critically-endangered sea turtle dies after ingesting one litre worth of plastic

A critically-endangered sea turtle has died at Auckland Zoo after ingesting enough plastic to fill a one litre container.

The female Hawksbill turtle washed up on the shores of Northland last month, weak and under-weight.

"We provided intensive care which included tube-feeding her to provide nutrition and we also gave her fluids, antibiotics and pain relief," Auckland Zoo resident vet Dr Lydia Uddstrom told 1 NEWS today.

The Hawksbill turtle washed up in Northland last week, and died with a huge amount of plastic inside it. Source: 1 NEWS

"Despite her severe problems she initially improved and became a little stronger each day. However, after nearly two weeks of intensive care, her problems got the better of her, and she sadly died overnight."

A  Massey University study recently suggested a third of turtles found dead on New Zealand beaches had ingested plastic, often mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish.

"Unfortunately, plastic inside the intestine looks the same on an x-ray as the turtle's intestines themselves. Sadly for this turtle, even if we had been able to detect the plastic earlier, she wasn't in a healthy enough state for us to surgically remove it," Uddstrom said.

Hawksbill turtles are found in tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

The species is critically endangered due to the impact of humans on the turtles and their environment.

The female Hawksbill turtle washed up on the shores of Northland last month, weak and under-weight. Source: 1 NEWS