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Return to the blue lagoon

Saturday March 28, 2020 Written by Published in Environment
Ponu, the turtle having a great time in the lagoon, learning to be a turtle and getting ready for her release. Here she is swimming in the lagoon near the Rarotongan. 20032616 / Marine Eco Centre Ponu, the turtle having a great time in the lagoon, learning to be a turtle and getting ready for her release. Here she is swimming in the lagoon near the Rarotongan. 20032616 / Marine Eco Centre

There’s an unexpected casualty of the Covid-19 travel ban: Ponu the miracle turtle is stranded too. 

Ponu the turtle will not be released until the Covid-19 pandemic measures in Rarotonga have ended.

Discover Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre’s Stephenie Jansen says it is important to gather Ponu’s supporters at the lagoon near the Rarotongan Resort to watch Ponu’s release.

At midday on Thursday, the Eco Centre was closed as customer numbers reduced, and Jansen did not want to put her staff in harm’s way.

They also decided to wait and not release Ponu, she said.

“So many of the children are invested in coming to her release, that we will wait. She will just get bigger and stronger in the meantime.”

Ponu’s release would also be a great opportunity to do a bit of turtle education with the team at Te Ara o Te Onu, the journey of the turtle.

They will still take Ponu out to the lagoon for her strength and conditioning swims and next week they will take her on the passage with the assistance of the team at Ariki tours.

She said they would also continue to go to the centre at least three times a day, to attend to the fish, eels, rescue birds and Ponu in her tank.

The Centre will also still take in native birds for hand rearing and rehab.

Jansen said they were going to run a food pantry from the front of the building, but have asked the Akaoa Puna if they would like the cupboard.

The cupboard is now use by the Disaster Risk Management Akaoa Puna and it has been labelled as the ‘love box’.

“It’s already full of goodies. I just hope those in need of a bit extra aren’t too proud to use it.

“I just want to thank the community, the local Puna and the Government for the wonderful support they have offered both on a personal level and business level. We will get through this.”