Aquarium Releases Young Loggerheads

By / Life on the Island / Wednesday, 05 November 2014 05:00

Kure Beach, NC – In what has become an annual event, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher recently said goodbye to two yearling sea turtle animal ambassadors. For more than a year, two baby loggerhead sea turtles helped educate more than 440,000 Aquarium visitors about the threatened species. In that time, the animals received careful monitoring and care. They grew from about the size of an Oreo cookie to bigger than a dinner plate.
“These turtles helped make a critical connection between Aquarium visitors and threatened and endangered sea turtles,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. In early October, the turtles received their last veterinarian check and were cleared for release. Aquarium staff ferried the turtles approximately 35 miles off the coast and released them into a large area of sargassum seaweed, a natural sea turtle habitat with an abundance of food. The released sea turtles arrived at the Aquarium in August 2013, when they hatched in separate nests in Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher. Instead of heading to sea, as hatchlings typically do, the turtles were discovered during routine nest excavations three days after the nests hatched. Each summer, the Aquarium works with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local sea turtle rescue organizations, accepting a limited number of turtles that do not make the initial trek to the ocean. In late summer, two new hatchling loggerheads arrived at the Aquarium from a Fort Fisher nest. Husbandry staff began caring for these turtles and visitors can now see them in the Sea Turtle exhibit. “Visitors often comment on their tiny size in comparison to the larger space where the new hatchlings swim,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “Our staff takes that opportunity to make the connection between new baby turtles and the challenges and perils they face in the vast ocean.”

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