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.

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.

Journey of Survival: Endangered Baby Sea Turtle Fostered at Newport Aquarium

 

A group of loggerhead turtles on the beach. (Photo courtesy of Ohio State University's Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist webpage, http://ocvn.osu.edu)

A group of loggerhead turtles on the beach. (Photo courtesy of Ohio State University’s Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist webpage, http://ocvn.osu.edu)

 

It happens every year from July through October along the coast of North Carolina. After dusk, thousands of baby loggerhead sea turtles hatch from eggs after months of developing in sand-covered nests on the beach. After these fresh turtles emerge from nests that average about 100 eggs, instinct tells them to head for the safety of the Atlantic shore, using moonlight over the ocean’s horizon as their guide.

Unfortunately, not every newly hatched turtle is lucky enough to make it to water. Manufactured sources of light from beachfront property, streetlights, car lights and campfires can turn hatchlings around in the wrong direction. This disorientation can signal doom for hatchlings, who must avoid such predators as seagulls, ghost crabs, raccoons and dogs in order to survive. Disorientation is a leading contribution to why experts estimate that only one in 1,000 hatchlings will reach adulthood. As a result, loggerhead sea turtles have been on the endangered species list since 1978.

A newly hatched loggerhead easily fits in the palm of a hand. (Photo courtesy of http://oceana.org/)

A newly hatched loggerhead easily fits in the palm of a hand. (Photo courtesy of http://oceana.org/)

Thankfully, for many of these shelled creatures, volunteers at the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project monitor and guide hatchlings to help ensure they make it to water. The volunteers also round up weak hatchlings and stragglers, and deliver them to North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission‘s Division of Wildlife Management staff, who care for these endangered animals until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild.

As part of its accreditation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Newport Aquarium has participated in the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project since 2003. Each October, husbandry staffers from Newport Aquarium and other AZA accredited institutions from across the United States meet in The Tar Heel State and work with local marine biologists to release sea turtles into the ocean. Upon a successful release trip, each participating institution is given at least one young hatchling to foster typically for a year.

On Oct. 17, 2013, Newport Aquarium biologist Jen Hazeres and water quality specialist Cameo VonStrohe released Freedom, a loggerhead sea turtle, and 17 other sea turtles into the warm waters of the Gulf Stream 36 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

Following a successful release mission, Hazeres and VonStrohe did not return empty-handed. The Sea Turtle Project folks gave them a seven-week-old female loggerhead to foster and nurture at Newport Aquarium.

The young loggerhead 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 Hazeres and VonStrohe. 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.

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

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

Before heading back to Newport, Hazeres and VonStrohe lubricated the tiny loggerhead’s shell, and gave her eye drops to keep them moist during the car ride. Hazeres and VonStrohe loaded up their truck and transported the female loggerhead in a small C3 sterile container back to the aquarium. The container was covered to help keep the loggerhead warm and calm.

“And so she wouldn’t have to hear Cameo and I sing,” Hazeres joked of the drive back from North Carolina to Newport, Ky.

Visit Newport Aquarium’s official blog – aquariumworks.org – every Tuesday to receive updates on the baby sea turtle’s progress through its journey of survival.

Newport Aquarium Helps Release 18 Sea Turtles Offshore in North Carolina

NAQ’s AZA accreditation enabled participation in the conservation programImage

Newport Aquarium Water Quality Specialist Cameo Von Strohe (front) and Biologist Jen Hazeres (not pictured) helped release 18 loggerhead turtles Thursday as part of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Sea Turtle Program. (Photo courtesy of North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores) 

BEAUFORT, N.C. – Two Newport Aquarium husbandry staffers, Biologist Jen Hazeres and Water Quality Specialist Cameo Von Strohe, participated Thursday in the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Sea Turtle Project.

Hazeres and Von Strohe partnered with representatives from North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Mystic Aquarium, Pittsburgh Zoo and Virginia Living Museum to release 18 loggerhead turtles into warm waters of the Gulf Stream 36 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The turtles ranged from just a few weeks old to five years.

Newport Aquarium’s accreditation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums enabled the Northern Kentucky attraction to participate in the Sea Turtle Project with other AZA members.

“Today was tremendous; releasing 18 turtles,” Hazeres said. “It was just an awesome day. There were some hatchlings, one turtle was five years old. It was a great day for everyone. We worked hard the last year for this day and it’s a great feeling to see the end results.”

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.

Hazeres served as the Newport Aquarium liaison to the Sea Turtle Project and spent the last year fostering Freedom the Sea Turtle. Hatched in July 2012, Freedom was identification tagged before his release into the stream, while two other turtles were satellite tagged. The satellite tags are used for scientific research and tracking, and can stay on a turtle anywhere from two weeks to a year.

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

For more information about Newport Aquarium, visit www.newportaquarium.com or call 800-406-3474.

-NewportAquarium.com-