This #TurtleTuesday is extra special because it’s also World Sea Turtle Day, a day to throw the spotlight on worldwide sea turtle science and conservation. We can’t think of a better ambassador for this day than our very own 9-month old rehab and release loggerhead sea turtle Seamore, rescued off the coast of North Carolina in 2014.
Last October Seamore was brought to Adventure Aquarium for 12-18 months of head-start preparations as our biologists provide nrichment and exercises meant to prepare Seamore for life in the “big blue” once he’s returned to the Atlantic Oceans in a little over a year.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), of the 7 species of sea turtles, 6 are found in U.S. waters. All sea turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 10 populations are endangered and 6 populations are threatened.
As a result, many conservation strategies are currently being implemented in an effort to help save sea turtles from extinction. In November 2012, Adventure Aquarium began participating in a sea turtle conservation and tracking project ran by North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. This conservation program allows sea turtle hatchlings to get a head start at aquariums where they are closely monitored and grow in a safe environment for eventual release into the ocean.
Aquarium Insider fans may recall last month’s update where we shared some of the outside-the-box enrichment biologists are providing to Seamore to keep him stimulated and ready for his eventual release. Biologist Dave Lestino is happy to report that Seamore is continuing to do well with his enrichment; slowly getting used his back scratcher and continuing to show interest in his wiffleball and grazer. And of course, he’s not just expanding his mind, he’s also maintaining a steady, healthy weight gain on his diet of 40 grams a day (food favorite: mastigias jellyfish treats) He’s now up to 1090 grams – nearly 2.5 pounds!
Check out Seamore in action on exhibit!
Curious what you can do to help sea turtles like Seamore? U.S. Fish & Wildlife offers these tips:
- Minimize beachfront lighting during the sea turtle nesting season by turning off, shielding, or redirecting lights away from the beach.
- Close blinds and draperies in oceanfront rooms at night to keep indoor lighting from reaching the beach.
- Remove recreational equipment, such as lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and boats, from the beach at night. These items can deter nesting attempts and prevent hatchlings from reaching the ocean.
- Do not to construct beach campfires during nesting season. Sea turtle hatchlings are attracted to the light and may crawl into fires and die.
- Use your natural vision and moonlight when walking on the beach at night.
- If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, remain quiet, still and at a distance. Flash photography and human disturbance may prevent her from nesting successfully.
- Leave the tracks left by turtles undisturbed. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of turtle that nested and to find and mark the nests for protection.
- If you encounter a sea turtle nest or hatchlings, leave the eggs and baby turtles alone.
- Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, styrofoam, and trash floating in the water as food and die when this trash blocks their intestines.
- Celebrate events without the use of helium balloon releases. Like plastic trash, balloons end up in the ocean, especially when released near the coast. Sea turtles mistakenly eat the balloons and die.
- Avoid trampling beach vegetation. Use boardwalks when available instead of walking over dunes. Natural vegetation stabilizes sand and reduces beach erosion.
- When boating, stay alert and avoid sea turtles. Propeller and collision impacts from boats and ships can result in injury and death of sea turtles. Also, stay in channels and avoid running in seagrass beds to protect this important habitat from prop scarring and damage.
- Avoid anchoring boats in seagrass beds and coral reefs which serve as important feeding and resting habitats for sea turtles.