Newport Aquarium to release 1-year-old sea turtle back into wild

By Madison Wallace, Newport Aquarium PR Aide

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Paddles, a 1-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, receives her final physical examination from Newport Aquarium staff.

NEWPORT, Ky. — Paddles, Newport Aquarium’s one-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, will be released into the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.

Newport Aquarium has partnered with aquariums across the country to participate in this project and aid sea turtle conservation efforts since 2003.

Through the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project, newly hatched turtles that are at risk to not make it into the water are rescued and nurtured for about a year until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild.

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Newport Aquarium Biologist Jen Hazeres (left) holds up Paddles the sea turtle while posing next to a poster at North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shore telling Paddles’ story with Water Quality Specialist Cameo Von Strohe.

Two animal husbandry staffers from Newport Aquarium, Biologist Jen Hazeres and Water Quality Specialist Cameo Von Strohe, made the trip down to North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores to release Paddles into the Gulf Stream just this week.

In order to better track her progress, Hazeres affixed a tracking device to Paddles’ shell. This device will make it possible for aquarium staff and guests alike to track her movements throughout the coming year.

Sea turtle tagging also allows scientists and conservationists to collect more accurate data about the behavior and population of young sea turtles.

When Newport Aquarium received Paddles in November 2014, she was about the size of a deck of cards and weighed less than one pound.

After spending a year at Newport Aquarium learning to swim, find her own food and coexist with other marine life, nine-pound Paddles will be released back into the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday.

Loggerhead sea turtles in the wild are threatened, which makes programs like the Sea Turtle Project integral to these creatures’ survival.

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Newport Aquarium Biologist Jen Hazeres placing a satellite tag on Paddles.

Loggerhead turtles are listed as internationally endangered, meaning that we could see their species disappear in the wild within the foreseeable future.

Adulthood for loggerhead sea turtles takes place between 17 and 33 years, making the journey to adulthood an arduous one. Only one out of 1,000 hatching sea turtles makes it to adulthood, meaning that only one turtle out of ten nests will survive to reproduce.

The first several minutes after they hatch are when these turtles are most at risk, but the majority of problems threatening them later in life aren’t natural—they’re man-made, including the fishing industry and loss of nesting habitat.

The WAVE Foundation, Newport Aquarium’s nonprofit partner, is responsible for organizing the Newport Aquarium’s involvement with this project every year.

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Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
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