Loggerhead Sea Turtle: Behind-the-Scenes Update

In early January 2015, visitors to Birch Aquarium will be able to see a rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle that was recently transported to San Diego from South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina. To learn more about the history of the turtle and find out how you can help support its ongoing care, visit the aquarium’s website. We will be blogging updates on the turtle’s story, from its arrival in San Diego to exhibit preparations in the Hall of Fishes and the turtle’s behind-the-scenes care.

Previous post: Meeting our Loggerhead Sea Turtle

After a wonderful send-off from the staff and volunteers at South Carolina Aquarium, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s journey continued with the help of Delta Air Lines and the coordinated efforts of staff at Charleston International, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta, and San Diego International Airports. Since the East Coast was experiencing a cold snap during the trip, and Loggerheads are accustomed to more moderate climates, Birch Aquarium husbandry experts and airport personnel worked together to ensure a safe and comfortable cross-country journey for the turtle.

Precious cargo aboard!

Precious cargo aboard!

Since arriving in San Diego, the turtle has been busy adjusting to its new surroundings. We are pleased to share that the turtle’s acclimation to life in San Diego has been going quite well!  The husbandry team at Birch Aquarium has been making sure the turtle is receiving the highest quality nutrition and care.  One way they do this is through target training (the red triangle in the photo below is the “target”). Using this technique guarantees the turtle will get critical vitamins and food when it moves to the Hall of Fishes in January.

Target training

Target training

While behind-the-scenes, Husbandry and Animal Health teams worked together to assess weights, measurements, and baseline blood values for the turtle. These routine evaluations help aquarists monitor and care for the turtle as it grows—at about one hundred pounds, the turtle is currently only a juvenile!

Loggerhead turtle during routine physical

Loggerhead turtle during routine physical

Additionally, with the help of UC San Diego Health System, the husbandry team was able to utilize a CT Scan (Computed Tomography) at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla to view the turtle’s scoliosis, skeletal structure, and importantly, the flippers.  The information from the scan helps aquarium staff provide the care needed to keep the turtle healthy for years to come.

Arrival at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla

Arrival at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla

We are very grateful to our UC San Diego Health System for helping us get an important “closer look” at our turtle.

CT scan

CT scan

On January 6, 2015, visit Birch Aquarium to see our Loggerhead Sea Turtle in the Bahía Magdalena tank in the Hall of Fishes!

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego