One Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s Journey of Survival Leads to “Forever” Home at Adventure Aquarium
Meet Ozzy, an undeniably adorable rehabilitated Loggerhead Sea turtle yearling (toddler) who permanently joined the Adventure Aquarium animal collection this week! Ozzy is the first of what will be an extensive collection of turtles featured this winter during Adventure Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Turtles: Journey of Survival, opening to the public on January 14, 2014.
The new, limited-time exhibit will showcase an extensive array of land and aquatic turtle and tortoise species from all over the world, ranging from turtles no larger than a postage stamp to a sea turtle that weighs as much as a motorcycle! Unlike many of the new turtle species, which will be at Adventure Aquarium only for a limited time, Ozzy has found his “forever” home at Adventure Aquarium.
“Ozzy is so unbelievably cute and we’re delighted to welcome him to the Adventure Aquarium family,” said Nikki Grandinetti, Curator, Fish & Invertebrates at Adventure Aquarium. “We’re equally thrilled that our guests will be able to see Ozzy up close and in person, ultimately inspiring them learn more about these amazing animals.”
As content as Ozzy is today, frolicking and exploring his new exhibit across from the Aquarium’s 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit, his life had a challenging beginning. From the moment sea turtles hatch, they face an uphill battle for survival. Fortunately, aquariums across the country, like Adventure Aquarium, aim to help as many sea turtles as possible. Thanks to an extensive network of organizations, volunteers and aquariums dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles, Ozzy’s future is now filled with hope.
Loggerhead Sea turtles often live for decades in the open ocean, but it is their first few minutes of life when they are most vulnerable. Nests deposited on coastal beaches typically hatch from July through October, and as they emerge, the “hatchlings” scramble out of their nests and toward the ocean in a race for life against predators, disorienting light sources and other obstacles. Each year, some of these hatchlings are too weak or disoriented to get to the ocean on their own, as was the case with Ozzy. Thankfully, organizations like the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are able give turtles like Ozzy a second chance at life.
WRC volunteers excavated Ozzy from his nest and transported him to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, where aquarists could help him recuperate. As Ozzy began to show improvement, aquarist noticed that he was not growing as rapidly as the others and that his back flippers were slightly deformed. Ozzy also had a condition that caused him to be negatively buoyant – a fancy way of saying that he has a tendency to sink to the bottom. These conditions made Ozzy vulnerable to predation in the wild so he was deemed “non-releasable” by US Fish and Wildlife.
“While Ozzy surely would not have survived in his natural habitat, we are confident that he can maintain a normal life under Adventure Aquarium’s specialized care,” said Dr. Michael Hyatt, Adventure Aquarium’s Veterinarian, who has previous experience working with rehabilitated sea animals.
As a permanent member of Adventure Aquarium’s collection, Ozzy will be monitored and well cared for by the Husbandry and Veterinary staff. He will also serve as an ambassador for Loggerhead Sea turtles worldwide, inspiring guests of all ages to admire, and ultimately help protect, sea turtles in the wild.
“One of the many cool things about having Ozzy join the Adventure Aquarium family at such a young age is that Passholders and returning guests will be able to see Ozzy mature through the years; so he’ll literally grow up along with our guests,” explained Grandinetti. “In that regard, Ozzy is not just a member of the Adventure Aquarium family, he’s a member of all of our families!”