Endangered Species Day: Rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle Enters New Tank

This Endangered Species Day, Newport Aquarium celebrates a success story as the rescued loggerhead sea turtle hatchling, Shack, is introduced to a new, more spacious home within Newport Aquarium. Shack was just moved into the bigger saltwater tank outside Shark Ray Bay Theater, in the Shore Gallery. He entered the tank to the excitement and applause of a group of young children, and swam down to the front of the tank, giving the children an up close view as he explored his new home.

Shack now has more room to dive and grow as he awaits his next journey to return back to the ocean, off the coast of North Carolina. He was rescued last October, as a hatchling on the beach in Shackleford Shoal, N.C. He weighed 73 grams – about the size of an egg from your refrigerator—and could fit in the palm of your hand. He now weighs about 2.5 pounds.

Biologist, Jen Hazeres, with Shack, shortly after he was rescued.

Biologist, Jen Hazeres, with Shack, shortly after he was rescued. Shack weighed 73 grams.

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling

Newport Aquarium biologist, Jen Hazeres, with loggerhead sea turtle, Shack, before he enters his new, bigger tank. Shack now weighs 2.5 pounds.

“Moving Shack into the bigger tank is part of his development and enrichment,” said Jen Hazeres, biologist at Newport Aquarium. Hazeres was part of the team of biologists that rescued Shack, and brought him back to be fostered at Newport Aquarium. “He’ll be able to dive deeper. We want to get him used to a more natural environment before he’s released back out into the wild in October.”

Saving The Species
Scientists say only one out of 1,000 hatchlings has a chance of making it to adulthood. All sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Loggerhead sea turtles are listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

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Biologists at Newport Aquarium work closely with the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shores to rehabilitate a young loggerhead sea turtle each year. Newport Aquarium biologists travel to North Carolina each fall to release the previous year’s hatchling and pick up a new sea turtle that needs our help. The WAVE Foundation’s Aquatic Conservation Fund supports the satellite tagging of our turtles before their release.

Why Tracking Is Important
Satellite tracking is extremely important in determining sea turtle migratory patterns, feeding and nesting data. We hope to learn a lot from their travels. You can go online and see where the rescued sea turtles go at www.wavefoundation.org.

Loggerhead sea turtle nest

Only one out of 1,000 hatchling turtles will grow up to be adults. Some sea turtles can lay more than 100 eggs each time they nest. However, a lot of things can stop a sea turtle from laying her eggs. They’re accidentally captured in fisheries. They’re also hunted in many coastal communities, especially in Central America.

How To Help

  1. Help by keeping the beaches clean when you go on vacation. Pack up your beach chairs, towels, trash and other items at night so the sea turtles have an easy path to their nest.
  2. Turn off your porch lights at the vacation home during the nesting season. The artificial lighting confuses the female sea turtles from nesting. Instead, turtles will choose a less-than-optimal nesting spot, which affects the chances of producing a successful nest. Also, near-shore lighting can cause sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented when they are born.
  3. Reduce the need to use plastic bags. They end up in our oceans and look like floating jellyfish to sea turtles. Use reusable bags for your grocery items.

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