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.


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!

shark ray

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.


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!

Frank 2-6 Too

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.


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!

loggerhead sea turtle

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.”

IMG_0103 (2)

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.

Frank Vet 5

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!

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/

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

By Madison Wallace, Newport Aquarium PR Aide


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.


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.


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.


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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