Don’t kill the turtle! Spare the turtle, bring the turtle home.
It’s loved and missed in Katikati, some half-an-hour and 36 kilometres up State Highway 2 from Carmichael Reserve where it’s holed up - ponded up - at the moment.
This is the latest bizarre twist in The Weekend Sun red-eared slider saga – the story of the rogue terrapin spotted and photographed in the suburban Tauranga waterway.
“How many turtles are there in Carmichael Reserve?” asks Ross Fippard, who lives right beside the second fairway of Fairview Golf and Country Club in Katikati. “If there’s only one, it’s probably ours and we want it back.”
Ross admits there’s no guarantee that the turtle is theirs, but it seems highly likely.
They only want one turtle - their turtle - not a whole bale, nest, dole or whatever collective noun you wish to apply.
“There was only one turtle here, and that’s all we need,” says Ross. “It couldn’t breed. Perhaps it’s like other animals and can lay infertile eggs.”
Ross says it lived happily alongside the ducks, eels and pukekos. It had company and it had food.
Did the turtle have a name? Ross, the jokester, doubts the turtle would remember and probably wouldn’t respond to a call. They have a rep for being grumpy and unsociable.
“Our turtle was a bit of an attraction,” he says. “People would come to see him. He would wander onto the second fairway by the big pond.” Nature protected the semi-aquatic red eared slider from the golf balls but not from the thieves. Ross claims the turtle was nicked, stolen. But we need to back up a bit first.
It seems five or six years ago, the turtle was washed through the grating of a storm water drain when a local and his grandchildren were cleaning its aquarium. It was about the size of a saucer back then.
The storm water drain emptied into the pond at the golf course and took the turtle with it.
Ross’ theory is that a group of guys – “probably from Tauranga” – were enjoying a golfing stag do. The story goes that they encountered the turtle on the fairway.
The turtle, unable to make his escape, couldn’t slide back into the pond and couldn’t live up to his name, so he simply withdrew into his shell.
“That’s when he went missing,” says Ross.
The fear now is the council responsible for the waterways will try to recover the turtle and either re-home him or euthanise him, as per their policy. “Well, please don’t,” says Ross. “We want him home and we will come and get him.”