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Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle on Exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium
“Traveling Turtle” made a splash in social media en route from North Carolina to Monterey
An endangered loggerhead sea turtle hatchling is now on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays: Opportunity to see/photograph/film turtle
Open Sea galleries at Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey
The young turtle weighs 1 pound, 2.5 ounces and is almost 6 inches long. It’s 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 net, 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 1 pound of fish.
The aquarium’s baby sea turtle made a splash even before it arrived here 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 Vogel’s side in the cabin, and kept warm inside a carrier lying atop a towel covering a hot water bottle.
The aquarium shared details and pictures of the entire trip on its our social media sites, especially Twitter, where feeds from #TravelingTurtle quickly became popular. As the journey occurred just before Christmas, many people empathized with travel delays and the desire to just go home. Read the feed at www.montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/tagged/traveling-turtle
The young turtle has been behind the scenes learning a feeding routine while its exhibit was renovated. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which governs endangered species, recently finalized new rules and regulations for exhibit sea turtles. As a result, the turtle’s exhibit at the aquarium now includes an upgraded life support system, new lights and a new TerraLite “seafloor” with custom sand waves.
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 at Pine Knoll Shores. 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.
Editors: Please contact Public Relations for digital images of the loggerhead sea turtle.
Mika Yoshida, Public Relations Administrative Coordinator
Angela Hains, Public Relations Senior Associate Manager