Biologist Sarah Stafford updates us on the efforts biologists are taking to prepare this very special turtle for his new life inside Adventure Aquarium’s Ocean Realm exhibit.
By: Sarah Stafford, Biologist – Fish & Invertebrates
My name is Sarah and I am a biologist at Adventure Aquarium. I’m also the primary care giver for loggerhead sea turtle Ozzy, who has been at Adventure Aquarium since November 9, 2012. Ozzy was deemed non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife because he has limited control of his rear flippers and he has had multiple lung infections which has resulted in a decreased lung capacity that has caused him to be slightly negatively buoyant. We received Ozzy from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, which has a rescue and rehab sea turtle program at their aquarium.
When he first arrived at Adventure Aquarium, he weighed in at 5 pounds and was only 10 inches long. Presently, he weighs 55 pounds and is 60 inches long! And while we don’t know Ozzy’s gender yet, as his name suggests, we refer to him as a male turtle. Ozzy was on exhibit while he was small, but for the last few months he has been living behind-the scenes in one of our large holding systems. While behind-the-scenes, Ozzy was receiving medical treatments and learning how to swim in deeper water environments.
Today, Ozzy is currently living in our Ocean Realm acclimation area connected to the larger exhibit that guests see during a visit. He’s healthy enough to go on some excursions out into the 760,000 gallon exhibit and on March 12 we was his very first try. Ozzy did great! He’s still a little guy compared to our other loggerhead, Bob, so our Fish & Invertebrates team dived with Ozzy just in case Bob got a little too curious.
Like I mentioned, he is a lot smaller than the other sea turtles so he can’t be out by himself just yet. The other concern with Ozzy was if he would be strong enough to make it to the surface for a breath of air since Ocean Realm is our deepest exhibit at 25 ft. Ozzy’s buoyancy issues were a concern for the team and we needed to make sure he would not have any trouble getting up in the water column.
During our first dive we had to nudge him a little to get him to swim up to the surface. He made it to the top with only a little difficulty. Then during his second dive, he made it three times to the surface by himself and even one from the abyss, the deepest part of Ocean Realm! We are continuing his Ocean Realm swims weekly and monitoring what places we will need to adjust and make “Ozzy friendly.” Stay tuned for ongoing updates and to learn more about when you can see Ozzy during your next visit.
Watch the full video of Ozzy’s first swims inside Ocean Realm: