The Traveling Turtle Goes on Exhibit!
Remember our traveling turtle? The young endangered loggerhead is now on exhibit in our Open Sea galleries.
The baby turtle weighs 1 pound, 2.5 ounces and is almost 6 inches long. It made a splash even before it arrived at the Aquarium in late December. Then, Curator Steve Vogel and his rare passenger were bumped from their flight to Monterey from North Carolina. After a day’s delay, the pair received the red-carpet treatment flying back to California on US Airways. The sea turtle stayed by Steve’s side in the cabin, and kept warm inside a carrier lying atop a towel covering a hot water bottle.
We shared details and pictures of the entire trip on social media sites, especially Twitter, via the hashtag #TravelingTurtle. As the journey occurred just before Christmas, many people empathized with travel delays and the desire to just go home.
Read all the stories on our blog.
The turtle is on exhibit by itself for now, but will soon be joined by mohara and French grunt fishes. Together, the tropical community exhibit represents species affected by overfishing. Those species of fishes are caught using a trawl, which indiscriminately scrapes sea floors in pursuit of maybe one or two species. As a result, an average of 10 pounds of “bycatch” – including loggerhead sea turtles – dies in pursuit of one pound of fish. (Recently, significant coastal protections for loggerheads were being implemented.)
The turtle will remain at the Aquarium from six to 24 months, depending on its growth rate. Since it will eventually be released back into the wild, aquarists are taking a “hands-off” approach and not hand-feeding it or spending more time with it than necessary. They’ll continue to keep track of the hatchling’s weight through routine exams. Aquarium staff is unsure if it’s male or female. Even experts can’t tell a sea turtle’s gender until it’s around 10 years old.
The turtle is one of nine hatchlings rescued in early 2012 by colleagues with the North Carolina Aquarium. These turtles didn’t make it back to sea with their nest-mates, and were raised at the aquarium. All nine are on loan to aquariums around the country, where they’ll live for up to two years before they’re returned to North Carolina, tagged and released.
I had to take two turtles (red-eared sliders) on a plane myself! They were for sale at this really sketchy street market “pet shop” in LA, and their living conditions were terrible. I bought two and they flew across the country with me after charming the flight attendant into granting them passage. We worked to give them 5-star treatment at my house.