JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Newport Aquarium’s young loggerhead sea turtle is ready for exhibit

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Equivalent to a baby making its first steps, the six-month-old loggerhead sea turtle that Newport Aquarium has fostered since October is ready to go on display.

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the loggerhead will be moved to the Shore Gallery exhibit in the 900-gallon Hanauma Bay tank, which simulates an active volcanic crater and reef.

“It’s a great tank to start with for her because there is a shelf, which will allow her to get individually fed since the other animals in the tank are ravenous,” said Aquatic Biologist Jen Hazeres, the turtle’s primary caretaker.

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The Hanauma Bay tank includes Stripey fish, Achilles tang, emperor angelfish, two eels and crabs. Upon her move to exhibit, the female loggerhead will be interacting with other animals for the first time in her young life.

“She will try, and might succeed, eating some of the fish, really all of them,” Hazeres said. “It’ll be fun; it’s good training for her to be around other fish and learn to not waste energy chasing animals that she will have a hard time catching. It’s something she will have to know once she’s in out the wild.”

As the sea turtle’s weight increases, so too does her food intake. Currently she is getting 12.5 grams of food twice per day.

A growth chart of the young loggerhead's weight (in grams).

A growth chart of the young loggerhead’s weight (in grams).

Now that her weight is up – she checked in at 831 grams (1.83 pounds) on Feb. 10 – and she is able to dive to the bottom of her current 90-gallon tank with relative ease, Hazeres said the small turtle is ready to move onto the next phase of her growth.

“Displaying her for other people is what I’m looking forward to the most,” said Hazeres. “It’s always satisfying seeing an animal more in its natural habitat. It’s the next stage of her development.”

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Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates on the baby sea turtle’s progress.

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