Newport Aquarium’s Turtle Canyon exhibit, Winter Family Days to end March 1

Fans can enter to win an exclusive encounter with the Midwest’s largest turtle, Bravo the Galapagos tortoise, before he’s #Galapagone

NEWPORT, Ky. – The deadline for the public to visit Turtle Canyon, featuring Bravo the largest turtle in the Midwest, and take advantage of Newport Aquarium’s Winter Family Days special, when two kids get in free with each paying adult, is March 1.

Since March 2014, Bravo – a more than 85-year-old, 650-pound Galapagos tortoise – has been the star of Turtle Canyon. He is scheduled to return to his home at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C. on March 2.

Bravo, a 650-pound Galapagos tortoise, is the largest turtle in the Midwest.

Bravo, a 650-pound Galapagos tortoise, is the largest turtle in the Midwest.

In addition to Bravo, several other unique species of tortoise will be leaving Newport Aquarium once Turtle Canyon closes, including the Egyptian tortoise, the smallest tortoise species in the Northern Hemisphere.

On March 2, the facility housing Turtle Canyon will temporarily close for renovations and re-open as the all-new Canyon Falls exhibit in mid-March. Canyon Falls will feature Asian small-clawed otters, as well as two unique species of lizard – yellow monitors and panther chameleons.

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Asian small-clawed otters will return to Newport Aquarium in March.

Last Chance to Take Advantage of Winter Family Days
Newport Aquarium is entering the final stretch of Winter Family Days, when two children receive free admission* with the purchase of one full-priced adult ticket.

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This family-favorite offer is available through March 1, during which time Newport Aquarium will open one hour early at 9 a.m. every Saturday and holiday weekend.

Winter Family Days tickets can be purchased at the Newport Aquarium ticket window, online at NewportAquarium.com or by phone at 800-406-FISH (3474).

I Heart Turtles Facebook Sweepstakes
To celebrate the remaining days of Turtle Canyon, Newport Aquarium is running a Facebook contest where one lucky guest and four of their friends will win an exclusive VIP Bravo Experience.

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The Facebook contest, which runs through Feb. 17, includes a prize package of five general admission tickets in addition to the private encounter with Bravo.

*This special offer cannot be combined with other discounts or coupons.

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, 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 is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Tilly set to return to Atlantic Ocean


(Videos of Tilly during her stay at Newport Aquarium the past year. Notice how much she grew in each video!)

NEWPORT, Ky. — Tilly, Newport Aquarium‘s 1-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, is set to be released into the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday.

Her return to the coastal shores of North Carolina is part of Newport Aquarium’s participation in the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Sea Turtle Project.

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Tilly weighs nearly 10 pounds as of Oct. 28, 2014.

As part of the Sea Turtle Project, newly hatched turtles that do not immediately venture to water, and therefore are most vulnerable to not survive, are rescued and nurtured for typically one year until they are healthy and strong enough to be released into the wild.

This program is crucial for the survival of sea turtles, which are federally protected and on the endangered species list. It’s estimated that only one in 1,000 sea turtles survive to adulthood.

Tilly was hatched at the beginning of August in Emerald Isle, N.C., and was no larger than the size of a 50-cent piece when she was given to Newport Aquarium staff.

A closeup of Newport Aquarium's new baby loggerhead from Dec. 17, 2013.

A closeup of Tilly from Dec. 17, 2013.

Tilly arrived at Newport Aquarium in October 2013. During her initial veterinarian visit at a North Carolina animal facility on Aug. 8, 2013, she was weighed at 54 grams, which is less than the weight of 11 nickels.

Her most recent recorded weight was over 4.5 kilograms (almost 10 pounds), which puts above the threshold to be satellite tagged.

The baby loggerhead checked in at 487 grams on Jan. 6, 2014.

The baby loggerhead checked in at 487 grams on Jan. 6, 2014.

A satellite tag will be placed on her shell on Tuesday, Nov. 4, which will allow people to track her whereabouts online. She will be the second turtle that Newport Aquarium has satellite tagged in its 15-year history. The last was Fisher in 2003.

The WAVE Foundation, Newport Aquarium’s nonprofit partner, financed Tilly’s tagging as part of its conservation and education initiatives.

After Tilly is released, Newport Aquarium staffers will return to Northern Kentucky with a new hatchling turtle next week and begin the adoption process all over.

We will be sure to share the link to follow Tilly once it becomes available.

A Touching Moment at Newport Aquarium’s Turtle Canyon

The Turtle Corral at Turtle Canyon

The Turtle Corral at Turtle Canyon

In case you did not hear the big news, Newport Aquarium’s newest exhibit Turtle Canyon opened to the public on Saturday, March 22!

In addition to Bravo, a 650-pound Galapagos tortoise and the Midwest’s largest turtle, and Thunder, a 118-pound and over 100-year-old alligator snapping turtle, one of the most distinctive features of Turtle Canyon is its Turtle Corral.

The Turtle Corral offers guests the unique opportunity to get up close and personal by touching a variety of turtles. On any given day, up to five species of turtles at a time can be found at the Turtle Corral.

Turtle Corral Touch Experience

The turtle species featured in the corral are:
African Spur Thigh tortoise – The third largest tortoise species in the world.
Gopher tortoise – A Flagship species for conservation and preservation of Longleaf Pine habitat in the Southeastern United States … one of four native tortoises to live in North America.
Leopard tortoise – The Leopard Tortoise is the fourth largest of the tortoise species and is considered vulnerable in parts of Central and South Africa due to consumption by the locals.
Red-footed tortoise – Medium-sized tortoise whose natural habitat ranges from Savannah to forest-edges around the Amazon Basin.
Yellow-footed tortoise – The third-largest mainland tortoise species, also found in the Amazon Basin of South America.

Red-footed tortoise

Red-footed tortoise

Don’t worry; we don’t have the same turtles in the corral every day. To ensure the turtles receive time away from the exhibit, a group of over 20 turtles are in the Turtle Corral rotation. This means guests can conceivably see different turtles at the corral practically every time they visit!

Like Newport Aquarium’s Shark Central and Shore Gallery touch experiences, guests are encouraged to employ the two-finger touch technique at the Turtle Corral.

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Two-finger touch technique

For the safety and well-being of both guests and turtles, the following rules have been established for Turtle Corral:

  1. Guests should only touch the turtles on their shells.
  2. Guest should refrain from touching a turtle’s legs, tail and/or head.
  3. Guests should never pick up or move a turtle.
  4. If a turtle is out of reach, it should not be picked up and moved. Please allow the turtle to have some “Time Out” time.
  5. Guests are strongly encouraged to use hand sanitizer before and after they are finished touching the turtles. Hand sanitizer is located all throughout Turtle Canyon, as well as the rest of the aquarium.

For guests with questions about the Turtle Corral, a trusty Newport Aquarium Animal Experience Specialist will be stationed nearby to answer them.

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We hope those who visit Turtle Canyon and experience the Turtle Corral come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for turtles of all species, which totals over 200 in the world.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates.

Alligator Snapping Turtle Thunder is a Newport Aquarium Mainstay

At more than 100 years old,  Thunder the alligator snapping turtle is the oldest animal at Newport Aquarium.

At more than 100 years old, Thunder the alligator snapping turtle is the oldest animal at Newport Aquarium.

If you came to Newport Aquarium when it opened to the public May 15, 1999, chances are you got to see our large alligator snapping turtle, graciously named Thunder.

If you’ve been to Newport Aquarium recently, chances are you’ve also spotted Thunder.

At more than 100 years old, not only is Thunder the oldest animal at Newport Aquarium, he’s also one of the original animals to go on display when we first opened.

Since the aquarium opened, Thunder has been in a tank near the Gator Alley exhibit. That is up until last week, when he was moved to the “Temple tank” at the new Turtle Canyon exhibit, which opens to the public March 22.

Alligator snapping turtles are one of the largest turtle species in North America. Across the U.S., populations of turtle species – including alligator snapping turtles – face a variety of environmental issues including water quality, habitat loss or degradation and hunting.

Saved from a butcher’s block, Thunder was rescued from a Louisiana market because of his large size. He moved to a turtle farm in Missouri before calling Newport Aquarium his home.

Due to both these natural and synthetic factors, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists alligator snapping turtles as an endangered species. These factors are also why it’s rare to see an alligator snapping turtle the size of Thunder in the wild.

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Thunder, like other alligator snapping turtles, is an ambush predator and prefers to hide and wait for his food to swim by. Then – SNAP – he catches it by surprise.

Newport Aquarium biologists describe Thunder as a picky eater, especially when it comes to mackerel. He gets fed roughly twice per week, but can go weeks without eating due to the low amount of calories needed.

Often you can find smaller fish swimming in the tank with Thunder as he awaits for a larger, more appetizing meal. If fish enter his tank small and grow to be medium-to-large sized, Thunder probably will not try to eat them. However, if you were to throw in a large bass into his tank, after an about hour chances are Thunder has taken a bite out of it.

One of the unique personality traits of Thunder is his penchant to practice yoga in the mornings; keepers often spot him stretching out his limbs first thing in the a.m.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates.

The Boss of the Shark Tank, Denver Serves as Rehab Ambassador to Newport Aquarium

For the past 10 years, Newport Aquarium has participated in the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project, which gives newly hatched sea turtles a head start by fostering them for one year before releasing them back into the wild. The program increases their chances of survival as only one in 1,000 sea turtles make it to adulthood. Tilly is the baby sea turtle Newport Aquarium will foster this year; her progress is well documented on this blog.

In the same animal family as Tilly is Denver, the nearly 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle and one of the most recognizable animals at Newport Aquarium. Denver is not a candidate for release back into the wild because of an injury suffered when he was a hatchling. One of his back flippers is smaller than the other because part of it was bitten off by a fellow hatchling. Additionally, upon his arrival at Newport Aquarium, Denver had to be treated for an air pocket that was caught under his shell, which trapped air and made it difficult for him to properly swim and dive.

Denver gets fed 5-6 pounds of fish/squid every day.

Denver gets fed 5-6 pounds of fish/squid every day.

Now vigorously roaming the waters of the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit for nearly the past 12 years, Denver serves as an ambassador to Newport Aquarium’s animal rehab and conservation efforts. He is widely considered the “boss” of the 385,000-gallon tank as his neighbors – four shark rays, tiger sharks, zebra sharks, stingrays and nearly 300 fish – yield to him when crossing paths.

Denver, who is approximately 19 years old, was aptly named because in the fall of 2002 he came to Newport Aquarium from Denver Aquarium.

With a shell currently measuring approximately three feet in length and approaching 200 pounds, Denver weighed close to 145 pounds and was half the size he is now when he moved to Northern Kentucky.

Denver swimming in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

Denver swimming in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

The average weight of an adult loggerhead hovers around 250 pounds, however Newport Aquarium biologists believe Denver will remain closer to the 200-pound mark because of his diet, which consists of 5-6 pounds of fish and/or squid each day.

Three of the largest turtle species in the world will be on display at Newport Aquarium when the new Turtle Canyon exhibit opens March 22, 2014: Denver; Bravo, a more than 600-pound, 84-year-old Galapagos tortoise and the largest turtle in the Midwest; and Thunder, a 118-pound alligator snapping turtle.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates.

JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Meet Tilly the Turtle

Tilly is the name of choice for Newport Aquarium's Facebook fans.

Tilly is the name of choice for Newport Aquarium’s Facebook fans.

The people have spoken and Newport Aquarium‘s baby loggerhead sea turtle’s name is officially Tilly!

After a week-long Facebook naming contest Tilly finished first ahead of Josie, followed by Emmy and Carolina.

Tilly first made her public debut last Tuesday when she was formally moved to the Hanauma Bay tank at Shore Gallery during Newport Aquarium’s press conference announcing the upcoming Turtle Canyon exhibit.

On Monday, Feb. 24, Tilly surpassed the 2-pound mark after weighing in at 929 grams (2.05 pounds to be exact). With her increased weight, her food intake has been moved up to 14 grams twice per day.

Tilly

Tilly is getting settled into her new digs and so has shown no trouble catching some ZZZZs.

Tilly in the Hanauma Bay tank at the Shore Gallery exhibit.

Tilly in the Hanauma Bay tank at the Shore Gallery exhibit.

“She loves the caves and the tank’s nooks and crannies,” said Jen Hazeres, aquatic biologist and Tilly’s primary caretaker. “She sleeps super sound and does not wake up unless I give her a tap on her shell.”

She has shown no hesitation in mixing and mingling with the other animals in the tank. Although Hazeres said the eels in the tank appear to be hiding since Tilly’s arrival.

The biggest challenge Tilly has faced is competing for good. Hazeres uses a net to divide the fish in the tank from Tilly during Tilly’s feeding times. Eventually, Hazeres states, Tilly will need to learn to be fast with getting her food as it’s a trait she will need to know once she’s released back into the wild next fall.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – to read #TurtleTuesday updates.

Turtle Canyon to Open at Newport Aquarium in March 2014

Newport Aquarium will feature three of the largest turtle species in the world

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NEWPORT, Ky.Newport Aquarium announced Tuesday, Feb. 18, the addition of Turtle Canyon, a thrilling new exhibit set to open to the public March 22, 2014.

Turtle Canyon will feature a diverse collection of more than 14 species spanning three continents. From the largest tortoise species in the world, the Galapagos tortoise, to the smallest tortoise species in the Northern Hemisphere, the Egyptian tortoise, Turtle Canyon will showcase turtles of all shapes and sizes.

Following a renovation of the Rainforest exhibit, Turtle Canyon will allow guests to view turtles up close and personal from multiple angles and vantage points. The new exhibit will include a turtle corral, which offers guests the unique opportunity to touch a variety of these adorable shelled creatures, including one of North America’s largest tortoise species, the Gopher tortoise.

Two massive turtles are set to anchor the exhibits inside Turtle Canyon, giving Newport Aquarium a total of three of the largest turtle species in the world.

Bravo is a more than 600-pound Galapagos tortoise, the largest species of land turtle in the world. (Photo courtesy of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden)

Bravo is a more than 600-pound Galapagos tortoise, the largest species of land turtle in the world. (Photo courtesy of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden)

A 118-pound alligator snapping turtle named Thunder will make his new digs at Turtle Canyon. Believed to be more than 100 years of age, Thunder is the oldest resident at Newport Aquarium.

At more than 100 years old,  Thunder the alligator snapping turtle is the oldest animal at Newport Aquarium.

At more than 100 years old, Thunder the alligator snapping turtle is the oldest animal at Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium mainstay Denver, the mischievous 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle with a three-foot-long shell, will continue to roam the waters of the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. When he first arrived at Newport in 2003, Denver was treated for an air pocket caught under his shell that made it difficult for him to dive and swim. Now completely healed, Denver serves as the aquarium’s ambassador to its sea turtle conservation efforts.

Denver, our nearly 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle, serves an ambassador to Newport Aquarium's sea turtle conservation efforts.

Denver, our nearly 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle, serves an ambassador to Newport Aquarium’s sea turtle conservation efforts.

The newest member of the aquarium’s turtle family is a sixth-month-old, 1.9-pound loggerhead who was put on display at the Shore Gallery exhibit on Tuesday. After hatching in August at Emerald Isle, N.C., this female loggerhead has been fostered by the Newport Aquarium husbandry staff since late October. Her journey of survival has been documented on Newport Aquarium’s official blog, aquariumworks.org.

Newport Aquarium needs your help naming its young loggerhead sea turtle. Fans can vote on Newport Aquarium's Facebook page from Feb. 18-24, 2014.

Newport Aquarium needs your help naming its young loggerhead sea turtle. Fans can vote on Newport Aquarium’s Facebook page from Feb. 18-24, 2014.

Fans can help name this young loggerhead by voting on Newport Aquarium’s Facebook page. Voting begins Feb. 18 and runs through Feb. 24.

For more information on Turtle Canyon, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474). Visit the aquarium’s Facebook page for #TurtleTuesday posts.

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Newport Aquarium, the No. 1 aquarium in the country according to USA Today’s 10Best.com, showcases thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water. Named a 2013 top U.S. aquarium by Travel Channel, 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 is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444 | www.newportaquarium.com

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

Josie 1

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.

Josie 2

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.”

Josie 3

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

JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Young Sea Turtle at Newport Aquarium is Bursting With Energy

Newport Aquarium's young loggerhead sea turtle is not camera shy.

Newport Aquarium’s young loggerhead sea turtle is not camera shy.

Most parents can agree that infants can be quite the handful. Between changing diapers, feeding, calming down cries, and burning off their energy; caring for a baby is a round-the-clock venture.

Aquatic Biologist Jen Hazeres and her assistants face similar realities while rearing Newport Aquarium’s six-month-old loggerhead sea turtle.

Our young loggerhead has displayed playful behavior and a curious attitude during her time at Newport Aquarium. She is a growing ball of energy, which was why she was moved from a 90-gallon tank to a 250-gallon tank on Jan. 7.

She is extremely close to going on exhibit, which will help her mental growth as she learns to interact with other animals in a new environment.

Most times when our baby loggerhead is taken out of her tank, she can be seen tirelessly waving her front flippers.

Exactly three months to the day her weight was recorded (70 grams) at Newport Aquarium for the first time, she weighed in at 664 grams (1.46 pounds) on Jan. 27.

She is getting wider, but the goal is take sure her width coincides with her length so she doesn’t become overweight.

As long as Newport Aquarium husbandry keeps the loggerhead’s weight on target, “This turtle is going to be just fine,” says Hazeres.

To help the loggerhead continue to gain the proper weight, she is currently being fed 10 grams of food twice a day. In the morning she eats a clay substance filled with vitamins and minerals. In the afternoon she gets to snack on small animals, such as silverside fish, and never leaves so much as a crumb – a sure sign of positive physical growth.

Eating a silverside fish head first is a positive sign that the young loggerhead is more comfortable with her swimming abilities.

Eating a silverside fish head first is a positive sign that the young loggerhead is more comfortable with her swimming abilities.

She does not mind the clay food in the morning, as evidenced by last week’s video of her scarfing down her breakfast in one minute.

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

JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Newport Aquarium’s young loggerhead is a hungry, hungry hippo

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For a lot of parents, getting their child to eat a healthy meal can be a challenge. A right of passage for many parents includes resorting to turning peas on a spoon into imaginary airplanes or spaceships to trick their kids into eating their veggies.

The importance of eating healthy is no different when it comes to raising newborn animals. Luckily for Aquatic Biologist Jen Hazeres, getting Newport Aquarium’s six-month-old loggerhead sea turtle to have a well-rounded and nutritious meal is easy peasy.

Check out this video of our young loggerhead devouring her breakfast within 60 seconds.

In the video, the baby loggerhead was eating a piece of Mazuri Sea Turtle Gel made specifically for carnivorous turtles. When mixed with water, the gel hardens into a clay-like substance. Based on how fast she eats these chunks, it must be pretty tasty. The ingredients include salmon meal, fish meal, fish oil, squid meal and a ton of vitamins to supplement her growth and immune system.

As you can see from the video, it’s quite an ordeal for her to eat because her buoyancy does not allow her to remain at the bottom of the tank for very long. This is why it is crucial that she continues to progress with adding weight.

During her weigh-in on Jan. 20, she tipped the scale at 597 grams (or about 1.3 pounds), which is 69 more grams from the previous week. Not only is she gaining mass, she’s also getting larger as her shell, front to back, measured slightly more than six inches long, and almost 4.75 inches from side to side.

Aquatic Biologist Jen Hazeres (left) takes the young sea turtle's measurements.

Aquatic Biologist Jen Hazeres (left) takes the young sea turtle’s measurements.

It’s little wonder this young loggerhead is not shy about eating as she has shown a natural pension to put her mouth on anything in her sight when she’s curious or excited.

One of the funniest sites featuring this particular sea turtle is when Hazeres and her assistants clean out her tank. They use a small, clear water hose to siphon out dirt and feces and oftentimes the mischievous loggerhead spots the hose and immediately begins to chew on it, delaying the entire cleaning process.

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