By: Leah Ben
Every animal at Adventure Aquarium has his or her own story. If these animals could talk, they sure would have a lot to say! One animal in particular, a baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle named Tortuga, has an extraordinary tale of survival to tell. We’ve shared updates with you, but now it’s time to get the full story:
Tortuga is part of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle Loan program at the North Carolina Aquarium. He came to Adventure Aquarium in November 2012 after members of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and volunteers from the North Carolina Aquarium found him as a tiny loggerhead hatchling still buried in his nest under the sand. Hatchlings are often too weak to dig their way out of the nest to accompany their siblings in the mad-dash to the ocean. The hatchlings are then brought to participating aquariums to recuperate for a period of time before being released into the ocean.
Tortuga is Adventure Aquarium’s second rehabilitate and release animal. The Aquarium saw the chance to be a temporary home for Tortuga not only as a great opportunity to take part in the effort to re-release animals into the wild, but also as an opportunity to educate guests about sea turtles and sea turtle conservation. During his stay, Tortuga is carefully monitored by biologists who track his growth and weight weekly. Turtles cannot be release until they weigh around 4,000 grams, or 9 lbs. It can take the hatchlings up to two years to reach this weight. By comparison, Tortuga was a mere 107.9 grams (only .2 lbs) when he first arrived!
This week Tortuga is weighing in at a whopping 2,150 grams or 4.74 lbs. He’s growing up so fast! As Tortuga grows, biologists will have to look into expanding his exhibit so he has more room to stretch his flippers. He may even be joined by some fish friends! When the time comes for us to say goodbye to Tortuga at Adventure Aquarium, he will be traveling back to North Carolina. Before being released into the Gulf Stream, he’ll be fitted with a snazzy satellite tracking tag that will allow biologists to monitor Tortuga’s travels. Research collected from the satellite tag will allow for a better understanding of where turtles are traveling, which is important to know in order to continue sea turtle conservation efforts.
Photo Credit: Eric DiFebbo Photography