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'Touch and go' recovery for injured sea turtle rescued after washing up on Northland beach

It's been a long journey for Abby the loggerhead sea turtle, which needed a flipper amputated and nearly died after washing up, badly injured, on a Northland beach.

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Abby the loggerhead sea turtle has been treated at Auckland Zoo and SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's. Source: Supplied

After the rescue from Baylys Beach late last year, it's been a tough road for the turtle to endure.

"When she came in, she had quite an old-looking wound on her front right flipper," Auckland Zoo resident vet Stefan Sav told 1 NEWS.

"It was quite a severe wound at the time and we noticed some potential for infection in the bone underneath it."

As she grew stronger over the next few weeks, the wound still wasn't healing and the team made the difficult decision to amputate.

Abby is now continuing her recovery at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's, which has a dedicated rehabilitation facility for sick and injured turtles.

Aquarist Kim Evans says it was "touch and go for a while".

"The lung problems combined with her severe flipper injury meant we came close to having to put her down," she says.

But five months of intensive care later, Abby's "progressed brilliantly", Ms Evans says.

"She is now able to eat normally and has been gaining plenty of weight. Abby is still receiving daily medication, but we are hopeful that we will soon be able to move to the next stage of her rehabilitation."

Abby the loggerhead sea turtle undergoing surgery at Auckland Zoo. Source: Supplied

Once she's strong enough, Abby will be moved into the aquarium's Turtle Bay display.

It'll be an opportunity for her to reacclimatise to natural life, hanging out with another creatures that she'll likely encounter in the wild - including another loggerhead turtle.

The team are hopeful she'll keep recovering and getting stronger.

"The eventual plan is to release Abby back into the ocean if all goes well with her recovery," Ms Evans says.

As for her missing flipper, Mr Sav says she should be able to survive in the wild without it.

"There's been a fair amount of release of turtles done like this previously, with tracking and follow-up post-release," he says.

"And missing one or even two flippers, they seem to do pretty well, especially a decent-sized sea turtle."

While sharing Abby's story, Mr Sav and Ms Evans urge people to help protect the world's sea turtles.

"The thing is to remember that we share the waters and the land with some really amazing creatures," Mr Sav says.

"Everyone has the capacity to do something to help these animals."

Plastic waste is a major threat to sea turtles, so Ms Evans encourages people to reduce, reuse and recycle.

"It’s also important not to litter and to help pick up rubbish on our beaches."

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Another way to help is calling the Department of Conservation if you come across an injured or stranded sea turtle.

Helping to refloat it could cause more harm than good, Ms Evans says.

"If you find a sea turtle washed up on a beach in New Zealand waters it means it desperately needs help," she says.

"Putting it back in the water when it is ill will only lessen its chance of survival.”

Injured or stranded sea turtles can be reported to the Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOT.