In Our Hands

By Ric Urban, Senior Biologist

Can you imagine a day when there is more plastic in the Oceans than fish and other marine life?

Newport Aquarium has joined 18 other aquariums around the country in a new initiative to “stand up” and take a stance against plastic pollution and our society’s dependency on single-use plastics.  Monterey Bay Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium and the National Aquarium are the founders of this movement that invited Newport Aquarium to join other notable aquariums across the United States in this collaboration known as the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) in 2016.

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In Our Hands is a consumer campaign of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), a coalition of 19 U.S. aquariums taking action together to advance ocean and freshwater conservation.

This summer’s campaign is called “In Our Hands” and the mission is to encourage our guests and our communities to reduce their plastic use and find alternatives.  The ACP is setting a goal to eliminate or reduce plastic beverage bottles in our respective institutions by 2020.

Each member has already eliminated plastic straws and single-use bags, and intends to “significantly reduce or eliminate” other plastics over the next few years.  Our Aquariums want to set the example in our communities that we are concerned and want to make a difference.

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All known species of sea turtle ingest or are entangled by plastic in their lifetimes. aquariums in turning the tide, at http://www.ourhands.org #SkipTheStraw #LoseTheLid

The members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership are also members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  More than180 million visitors visit zoos and aquariums each year and our aquariums have a responsibility to educate of visitors of the dangers of plastic pollution and the effects it has on our freshwater and marine environments. New studies have shown more than 8 million tons of plastic finds its way into the ocean every year and the number is expected to double by 2025.  In the United States alone, plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person each year.  The Aquarium Conservation Partnership members are not only raising awareness about plastic pollution, promoting behavioral changes with our guests, but also working with business partners and vendors to share good alternatives to single-use plastics and introduce new products and materials.

Our choices are transforming the ocean, lakes, and rivers

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Plastic is now found in almost every marine habitat on Earth, and we’re producing more than we can sustainably manage. Source: A. Lusher, Microplastics in the marine environment: distribution, interactions and effects, Marine Anthropogenic Litter, 2015.

Change takes time

You can help make a difference. Every time you go to the grocery store and every time you drink a bottle of water or soda.  By changing to a re-useable water bottle, you’re making a healthy change in your personal lifestyle and making a life-saving contribution to our planet. Last year, the U.S. used about 50 billion plastic water bottles; that is nearly 200 per person.

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Our everyday choices are transforming the ocean – but the solution to the plastic problem is #InOurHands. Find out how you can help at www.ourhands.org

Where do all these water bottles go?  Are they recycled?  Studies say no.  Only 23 percent of the plastic bottles were recycled, meaning this plastic was ending up in our landfills or in our waterways.

 

It is time for all of us to “accept the challenge” to reduce our dependency on single-source plastics.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask for paper bags at the grocery store or bring your own re-useable tote bags
  • Skip the Straw at places you eat. Ask the staff not to bring straws to you or put them in your drinks.
  • Drink your beer from the tap or buy beer in growlers at the store. This reduces your use of cans and bottles and less recycling.
  • Start using a re-useable water bottle.
  • Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle – every little bit helps

Join Newport Aquarium and the Aquarium Conservation Partners in making this change to “Save Wild Animals and Save Wild Spaces.” Take pictures and tell us how you’re doing your part and we’ll share them on social media. Remember to use #InOurHands with your posts.

Ric is skipping the straw

We’ve eliminated plastic straws and bags, because we love our sea animals. Visit http://www.ourhands.org and find out what you can do for your favorite aquatic creature.

For more information on the “In Our Hands” campaign, visit:  www.ourhands.org.

Ric-Urban-portrait-120x120About Ric: Ric has more than 30 years experience working in AZA-accredited institutions. He will be presenting in two sessions at the upcoming 2017 AZA Annual Conference: Consume for Conservation and  Using Innovative Science to Refine Conservation Actions. Ric is the Project Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Program. He also holds a seat on the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Penguin Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) Steering Committees, and is a member of the AZA’s Animal Welfare Committee.

Takeover Tuesday: Raising a loggerhead sea turtle

Takeover Tuesday features a “day in the life” of biologists at Newport Aquarium. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hello there, my name is Jen. I am a Senior Biologist here at Newport Aquarium. Thank you for joining me for this #TakeoverTuesday.

I started out at Newport Aquarium 13 years ago as a diver in the tunnel tanks and as a dive show presenter! Most of our divers are volunteers through the WAVE Foundation.

Jen Hazerres, dive suit

I’m getting into our acclimation tank ahead of a special dive training. I started out at Newport Aquarium as a volunteer diver with WAVE Foundation. To learn more about the Volunteer Dive Program, visit wavefoundation.org

Divers receive special training on how to safely interact with the fascinating aquatic animals who call this place home. After 4 years of diving I joined the staff as a part time presenter/biologist where I worked all around the aquarium. I eventually took on a full time position as a senior biologist where I now work with the animals in the shore gallery, shark tank and anywhere else I am needed.

As a biologist I have the pleasure of working with our loggerhead sea turtles here at Newport Aquarium.

Feeding Denver

Denver, our adult loggerhead sea turtle is about 24 years old and weighs about 205 pounds! His favorite foods include fish, squid and salmon which he eats regularly, about 3-5 days a week.

Denver lives in our 385,000 gallon “Surrounded by Sharks” exhibit. Visitors have the chance to get a glimpse of Denver close up as he swims around. Due to medical reasons, Denver will continue to serve as an ambassador animal for his kind, helping to educate visitors about sea turtles, while giving them the opportunity for such a unique interactive experience.

Frank our younger loggerhead sea turtle is here as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.

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Dr. Hill helps take shell measurements during Frank’s checkup. Frank now weighs 1298 grams (2.8 pounds). Right after this checkup, he received the green light to move into a bigger tank.

Frank arrived in October of 2016 and weighed only 96 grams (0.2 pounds)! My job is to make sure Frank grows up healthy and strong as he trains for his release back into the ocean in a few months.

Frank just entered the bigger tank in the Shore Gallery. Turtle Tuesday is the perfect day to celebrate his new home. When Frank is big enough he will be released back into the ocean near the Gulf Stream! Stay tuned for our blog posts when we take Frank back out to the ocean, like we did with Shack last year.

While we’re making an impact with sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation, we’re also making a global impact with our Shark Ray Breeding Program and research here at Newport Aquarium. Our dedicated team of biologists has recently published a chapter on Shark Ray Husbandry.

We attribute part of our success in breeding due to their diet. Our four shark rays, Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike eat only the finest of seafood – it’s restaurant quality!

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We brought one of our shark rays, Scooter, into the acclimation tank.

The shark rays receive lobsters three days out of the week and bony fish two days of the week. Feeding the shark rays lobster is not common practice among many aquariums. Our high quality diets heavily contribute to the health and happiness of our animals.

Thank you for joining me today for #TakeoverTuesday. I hope I helped to spark an interest in these incredible animals, and how important it is to take care of their environment.

 

International Plastic Bag Free Day 2017

July 3rd marks International Plastic Bag Free Day. Today signifies the ability for the world to come together and create an environment that is plastic free and educating individuals about current alternatives to plastics and other wastes.

Sea Turtle and Plastic Bag

Did you know? About 80% of marine litter is plastic. This constant influx of litter and waste on a marine environment can have negative effects for the animals living there.

Today of all days, it is important to realize that anyone can help to make a difference in the environment. We hope the tips below will help you on your way to being a true advocate for marine wildlife preservation.

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Last year, Wave Foundation volunteers collected 95 bags of trash plus tires, and more along the Ohio River bank during Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) #RiverSweep

5 Ways to be a Marine Wildlife Advocate

  1. Make the Switch Away from Plastics
    • Small things like buying fresh and local products that avoid individual packaging and bulk packaging can be extremely beneficial. Bring your own cloth reusable bag to any store you shop at to avoid using plastic bags. Invest in a reusable water bottle, and help lower the amount of plastic bottles that end up in our oceans!  Shark Bridge swag
  2. Get Out There and Join in the Collective Effort
  3. Respect Marine Life
    • One of the best ways to gain a greater appreciation of wildlife and wildlife preservation is through education. Newport Aquarium is not only an exciting day of adventure but can also teach you a lot about different animal species and what the scientific community is doing to protect some of those species.
  4. Contact Local Officials
    • If you see an issue with a local body of water, say something. Remember your voice is important in making change in the world. Even if it is just a polluted creek, you never know where that debris could end up or what kind of wildlife could be affected.
  5. Spread the Word
    • Now that you know a little bit more about what you can do to make a difference, tell someone else. Reach out to family. Invite friends to join you in the next river sweep. Each person that is informed and that gets involved brings the world one step closer to creating a safer environment for our beloved aquatic animals.

 

North Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch

Trash islands in North Pacific Gyre. Photo Credit: Mario Aguilera / Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Around 1 million plastic bags are in use around the world every minute. On average, each of those bags will only be used for about 25 minutes. Once those plastics end out in nature it will take 100-500 years to disintegrate depending on the plastic.

 

 

 

 

To learn more visit: Newport Aquarium and WAVE Foundation

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

It’s World Sea Turtle Day! Meet Frank

Happy World Sea Turtle Day! Say hello to Frank, Newport Aquarium’s resident loggerhead sea turtle rescue!

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Frank the Loggerhead Sea Turtle was rescued from North Carolina and will be returned to the ocean in October.

Every year, biologists at Newport Aquarium rescue a loggerhead sea turtle hatchling from North Carolina as part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project. Volunteers watch the sea turtle nests to look out for any stragglers who remain in the nest after the other hatchlings have made their way to the ocean.

Here’s a slideshow of images from last year’s hatchling release:

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The volunteers rescue these stragglers and send them to aquariums and other organizations around the country for rehabilitation.

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We joined teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

Frank is one of those hatchlings, and he’ll be here at the Newport Aquarium until he’s returned to the ocean this October.

How Did Frank Get His Name?
Frank may seem an unusual name for a turtle, but there is an inspiring namesake behind it!

According to Senior Biologist Jen Hazeres, Frank was named after a very sweet gentleman who was on the boat that went out with her and Water Specialist Cameo VonStrohe to get the sea turtles. As you can guess, the man’s name was Frank!

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Last fall, Jen and Cameo returned Shack, our previous rescued loggerhead sea turtle, back to the ocean.

He was there with his sisters, who were volunteers helping with the turtle rescue. Frank, who has Down’s syndrome, had accompanied them on the trip to see the turtles. Hazeres and VonStrohe got to know them and their story during the trip, so when it came time to name their new turtle, they knew what name they wanted to choose.

“We’re always looking for inspiring stories to help us name our animals,” Hazeres said, “So when we got our new turtle, we asked if we could name him after Frank.”

Just Keep Swimming
As part of the rehabilitation process, our biologists and veterinarian take regular measurements and give regular check-ups to Frank.

“We have a growth chart that we’re required to follow,” Hazeres said, “and Frank is right on track with where he should be.”

 

According to Hazeres, Frank is a naturally strong swimmer and diver, which is great news for when he returns to the ocean later this year.

“He’s been diving ever since he got here and we put him in the water,” Hazeres said. “He’s also a superior swimmer for his age, compared to past turtles we’ve had.”

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Usually, it’s a longer process to make sure that the baby turtles are on par with the swimming and diving abilities they need to survive in the wild, but Frank has been a natural swimmer right from the start, and he’s only improved since!

What Happens Next?

Hazeres and the other biologists will continue monitoring Frank and looking after him during his time here at Newport Aquarium. Frank is fed a diet of an aquatic sea turtle gel food each morning, and in the afternoons, he’s fed fish, squid, or other types of food he’ll likely eat in the wild.

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Frank receives regular vet visits as part of his rehabilitation.

As he grows bigger and stronger, he’ll eventually be moved to the larger tank in the Shore Gallery, next to Shark Ray Bay Theater, so he can continue practicing his diving and swimming.

You can visit Frank in the Shore Gallery until he is returned to his home in the ocean this October!

Takeover Tuesday: The Guest Experience

Takeover Tuesday features a “day in the life” of biologists, and exhibits staff at Newport Aquarium. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hello, my name is Greg Moore, I’m a Guest Experience Supervisor here at Newport Aquarium, and I’m taking over your Tuesday!

Greg with baby gator

Baby alligator, Willard, is one of the ambassador animals at Newport Aquarium. Guests have an opportunity to meet an ambassador animal, during a daily Animal Outreach in the Stingray Hideaway lobby.

As a Guest Experience Supervisor, my focus is making sure guests have the most memorable experience, and create memories worth repeating! At the Tide Pool, guests can touch amazing creatures including sea stars, horseshoe crabs and anemones.

At Newport Aquarium, guests can Sea, Touch, and Explore… Together!

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Throughout the day, our team is stationed throughout the aquarium, to welcome guests, answer questions, and teach you about the amazing animals you’ll meet.

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Denver the loggerhead sea turtle joined our morning meeting. He welcomes guests to Shark Ray Bay Theater, and often likes to hang out in that window.

I love leading the team.  It can be a stressful job, but so rewarding.  All the jobs my team does, I also will do at any given day.  In the morning, we’ll have a team clean all the acrylic throughout the aquarium, to get rid of any smudges or salt residue.  Cleaning the penguin window is the best, because they’re so active in the morning and sometimes follow the pole.

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Some of the King penguins go for a morning swim in Penguin Palooza.

Interacting with guests, especially kids, is one of my favorite things.  To see a child’s excitement as they get to walk four feet above the shark tank, touch a shark for the first time, or even learn something new about these beautiful animals and what we can do to keep them around for future generations, is the highlight of my day!

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A diver poses while in the Amazon tank.

When I was a kid, my all-time beloved animals were the penguins. So naturally, my favorite part of working at Newport Aquarium is working with the African Penguins.

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When guests visit Newport Aquarium, they can purchase a Penguin Encounter and get up close and personal with these adorable birds. 

When a guest is surprised by how they feel, about their crazy characteristics, how their population is declining, makes me proud to be a part of that. African penguins are an endangered species. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched the Invest in The Nest campaign to help save these endangered penguins in the wild.

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So, when you come to the aquarium, I may be helping you touch a shark, teaching you about our sea turtle, or showing you some penguins. Hope to see you soon!

Plan your visit to Newport Aquarium: Things To Do, Visitor Tips, Additional Experiences, Penguin Encounters, Aquarium Activities, Shows and Feeds.

#Takeover Tuesday

Help Protect the Earth on Earth Day and Every Day

As we get ready to celebrate Earth Day, here are some things you can do to help protect the Earth. The National Ocean Service put together this list 0f 10 choices you can make for a healthier planet.Earth Day NOAA

Living with less plastic
Reduce the amount of reusable plastic in the world. According to a recent report, by the year 2050, there will be more plastics in our ocean than fish. Small changes over time add up to a big difference, especially when using plastic.Less Plastic

Protecting endangered animals
When guests visit Newport Aquarium, not only do they get to see amazing animals, but they also get to learn about how to help those animals and their environment. Newport Aquarium and other AZA accredited zoo and aquariums work to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals in their facilities.

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Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Newport Aquarium is a part of a sea turtle rehabilitation program, to rescue and release baby sea turtles back in to the wild.

Aquariums allow for people to see and interact with animals that they never would get the chance to normally. Aquariums also give a chance of a close and personal interaction with animals that can allow for guests to develop a special connection and help develop a passion to protect the animals and their environment.

Importance of Water
Newport Aquarium hopes to educate people about the importance of water and about the everyday things they can do to help protect our oceans, planet, and animals. A “Water Story” sign welcomes guests to exhibits. Guests can discover diverse ecosystems, the source of our planet’s water and threats to the world’s water as they visit.

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The World Rivers exhibit allows for guest to learn about a highest density and diversity of nine different rivers from five different continents.

Newport Aquarium also strives to improve water quality and conservation efforts to help the aquatic life in both ocean and fresh water environments all over the planet. Learn more in our World Water Day post.

Learn to love sea life
Through education; you will grow to appreciate ocean and marine life and take a more caring and careful approach to all things oceanic. A great way to do this is to visit local aquariums and AZA institutions, like Newport Aquarium.

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Overhead view of the Coral Reef, guests can see on a behind-the-scenes tour at Newport Aquarium.

Reduce plastic
Stop one time plastic. Plastic bottles, straws and containers are dangerous for the environment. Try to use reusable products as much as you can. Whether it is water bottles, tuber wear containers, or reusable straws, using these items help cut down on the use on one time plastics. This in return, can reduce the amount of harmful plastic found in wildlife.

Always recycle
Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. Try to make full use of the recycling depots in your local area.

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Volunteer and Donate
Volunteer to clean up local rivers and beach areas. Join thousands of volunteers at this year’s ORSANCO River Sweep, and clean up the Ohio River, its tributaries and riverbanks on June 17, 2017.  Volunteer with the WAVE Foundation  to excite, engage and educate our community about the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation.

Most of us want to make a difference and do something good for the planet. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect and see what we can do to protect our planet.

 

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle makes successful return to the ocean

Shack’s Release

A team from Newport Aquarium is in North Carolina, bringing Shack back to Shackleford Banks. After spending this past year at Newport Aquarium, growing and thriving, he’s ready to return to the ocean. Here’s Shack’s homecoming, told from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres, and Water Quality Specialist, Cameo VonStrohe.

Jen and Cameo with Shack, ready for the return to the ocean.

Jen and Cameo with Shack, ready for the return to the ocean.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
A busy day ahead! We started at NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The biologists prepared the turtles for the boat journey. It’s the same way we did when we prepared Shack for the trip back to North Carolina – applied an eye salve and ointment on shells and flippers.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk, joined Jen and Cameo for the release.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk, joined Jen and Cameo for the release.

Newport Aquarium diver, Kathy Folk joined us on the trip, to release Shack back into the ocean.

We traveled to the dock at Morehead City. This is where the volunteers (total of about 70 passengers) had a chance to meet and greet the turtles before boarding the Carolina Princess.

After about a two hour ride out, we reached warmer waters so it was time to anchor for the release. The water temperature was 74 F, depth 98 feet, latitude 34.27.477, longitude 76.17.969.

33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore – they ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old. Photo Courtesy: NC Aquarium at Pink Knoll Shores

33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore – they ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old.
Photo Courtesy: NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

 

 

Out on the boat today, to release hatchlings and yearlings, were teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, National Aquarium in Baltimore, NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, NC State Aquariums Roanoke and NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

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Thanks to NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, 33 healthy young loggerhead sea turtles were released about 20-miles offshore, near the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. They ranged in age from 2-weeks-old to a 2-year-old.

Homecoming for Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle

Greetings from Shackleford Banks

This week marks a big homecoming for Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle. A team from Newport Aquarium is in North Carolina, bringing Shack back to Shackleford Banks. After spending this past year at Newport Aquarium, growing and thriving, he’s ready to return to the ocean. Here’s Shack’s homecoming, told from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres, and Water Quality Specialist, Cameo VonStrohe.

Monday, October 17, 2016
We spent the day collecting salt marsh fish with two biologists from Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.

We caught striped killifish, sheepshead minnows, permit, mullet, and hermit crabs.

After a short boat ride to Shackleford Banks, the team anchored then used cast nets. This location happens to be our yearling turtle’s namesake… Shack, where he was found stranded on the beach last year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We took Shack to get a check-up and prepped for a PIT tag. Dr. Matthew Godfrey from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission measured Shack’s shell. Dr. Godfrey performed check-ups and took measurements on all of the turtles that are going to be released.

The PIT tag is an injected ID tag that can be read via a reader like UPC code. Biologists and keepers at zoos and aquariums use PIT tags with a lot of larger animals to help identify them from like animals in the same tank – such as sharks at Newport.

Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

We joined teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

We joined teams from Mystic Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium (our sister aquarium), Virginia Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

Jean Beasley gave us a tour at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. She is a real hero for sea turtle rescue in memory of her daughter.

The hospital was incredible, Jean is a huge champion of sea turtles.

The hospital was incredible, Jean is a huge champion of sea turtles.

The pools in the picture behind Jean are full of other rescue turtles. The hospital gets severe medical cases that usually involve surgeries or more involved rehab. Almost all turtles are released.

The hospital is 20 years old but moved into the new huge building three years ago. They have two main rooms, one for more critical patients. They also have a surgery room, radiograph room, kitchen, lab, and more. The hospital is completely funded privately and staffed by volunteers. They rehab green sea turtles, kemps, and loggerheads. Learn more about the hospital here: http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/

From the hospital’s website: The mission of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is the conservation and preservation of all species of marine turtles, both in the water and on the beach.

Karen Beasley Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

We accomplish this through the rescue, care, and release of sick and injured sea turtles, public education regarding the plight of sea turtles and the threat of their extinction, and learning opportunities for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and veterinary medicine from around the world. A nonprofit organization, we view our work as a privilege and are honored to work with these magnificent creatures.

Stay tuned for Jen and Cameo’s next post: Shack gets released back into the ocean.

Read our previous post: Rescued loggerhead sea turtle ‘yearling’ on his way to the ocean.

Rescued loggerhead sea turtle ‘yearling’ on his way to the ocean

After spending the last year at Newport Aquarium, Shack, the rescued loggerhead sea turtle is making his way back to North Carolina, and will be released back into the ocean this week. Shack came to Newport Aquarium last October, as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project. He was rescued as a hatchling on the beach along Shackleford Banks in North Carolina.

Shack, therescued loggerhead sea turtle is ready to return to the ocean.

Shack, therescued loggerhead sea turtle is ready to return to the ocean.

Working Together

Biologists at Newport Aquarium work closely with the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shores to rehabilitate a young loggerhead sea turtle each year.

One final picture in front of the saltwater tank near Shore Gallery. Biologist Jen Hazeres spent the last year raising Shack, and preparing him to return to the ocean.

One final picture in front of the saltwater tank near Shore Gallery. Biologist Jen Hazeres spent the last year raising Shack, and preparing him to return to the ocean.

“We travel to North Carolina every fall to release the previous year’s hatchling and pick up a new sea turtle that needs our help,” said Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist, Jen Hazeres who will be joined by Newport Aquarium Water Quality Specialist, Cameo Von Strohe. This week, they will meet up with teams from several other facilities to release the sea turtle “yearlings” back into the ocean. And they’ll return with a new hatchling to raise over the next year.

Ready for the ocean

In preparation to bring the yearling sea turtle back to North Carolina, Hazeres gave Shack one final check-up. She prepped his shell and rubbed an ointment on his head and shell. She also applied a salve on his eyes to keep them moistened.

Stay tuned for updates as Hazeres and Von Strohe visit the site in North Carolina and rescue a new hatchling.

To learn more about how you can help, see our previous post: https://aquariumworks.org/2016/05/20/endangered-species-day-rescued-loggerhead-sea-turtle-enters-new-tank/

Rescued Loggerhead sea turtle ready to return to the ocean

Shack, a rescued loggerhead sea turtle receives his final exam from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist Jen Hazeres and Dr. Peter Hill.

Shack, a rescued loggerhead sea turtle receives his final exam from Newport Aquarium Senior Biologist Jen Hazeres and Dr. Peter Hill.

Shack, the one-year-old rescued loggerhead sea turtle at Newport Aquarium will be released into the Atlantic Ocean next month, as a part of the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project. Shack was rescued last October, as a hatchling on the beach in Shackleford Shoal, N.C.

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

Only one out of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings 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.

Only one out of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings 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.

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.

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.

 

Growing and Learning
When Shack arrived at Newport Aquarium, he weighed 73 grams – about the size of an egg from your refrigerator—and could fit in the palm of your hand.  After spending a year at Newport Aquarium learning to swim, find his own food and coexist with other marine life, Shack is ready to return to the ocean.

He spent the last four months hanging out with the different species of angelfish and other saltwater fish in the exhibit outside Shark Ray Bay Theater, in the Shore Gallery.

“He learned how to dive deeper, and he’s gotten used to the environment,” said Jen Hazeres, senior biologist at Newport Aquarium. Hazeres was part of the team that brought Shack back to be fostered at Newport Aquarium. In his most recent checkup, staff veterinarian, Dr. Peter Hill took Shack’s shell measurements, performed a physical exam and weight, and cleared Shack for release. He now weighs almost 7 and a half pounds.

Shack explores the tank with his new neighbors.

Shack explores the tank with his new neighbors.

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.

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.

After Shack is released, Newport Aquarium staffers will return to Northern Kentucky with a new hatchling turtle to raise over the next year. Stay tuned for that announcement.

To learn more about how you can help, see our previous post: https://aquariumworks.org/2016/05/20/endangered-species-day-rescued-loggerhead-sea-turtle-enters-new-tank/