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|Mystic Aquarium Protects Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Nov 2013|
As part of its ongoing program to saving threatened or endangered species, Mystic Aquarium announced today that it has acquired a loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. The new loggerhead named Chance is just three to four inches long and weighs only 0.12 pounds. Chance can now be seen on exhibit at the Aquarium by visitors.
Mystic Aquarium participates in a “Sea Turtle Awareness Program,” a release program for loggerhead sea turtles run by the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Along with other aquariums from around the country releasing loggerhead turtles, Mystic released a sea turtle called Emerald that had been in its care for over a year into the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina. Water temperatures there average 74 degrees, which is optimal for the loggerheads’ survival. Two of the turtles were satellite-tagged, allowing them to be tracked and providing valuable information that will help future research projects.
Loggerheads are magnificent creatures often reaching lengths of three to four feet and weighing up to 450 pounds. However, they are threatened by both natural and man-made perils. Mother turtles lay their eggs on open-sand beaches above the high-tide line. Extensive development of beach front property deprives them of suitable nesting areas. Dogs, skunks, crabs, snakes and humans often disrupt their nests. The loggerhead hatchlings encounter toads, lizards, and birds when they leave their nest to migrate back into the sea.
In the ocean, loggerheads are at risk from exposure to pollution to being hit by passing boat traffic. The biggest threat comes from marine debris such as plastic bags, which the loggerheads ingest thinking they are jelly fish, one of their food sources. Major steps have been made to prevent loggerheads from being caught in nets from commercial fisheries. Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) are attached to trawl nets and work as an escape hatch for larger, accidentally caught animals. Since 1990 when this device was first used, there has been an estimated 90 percent reduction in sea turtle deaths.
Dr. Allison Tuttle, Senior Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services at Mystic Aquarium, said: “We are committed to protecting all creatures of the ocean and are particularly aware of the plight of the loggerhead turtle. It is our mission to educate the public about the loggerhead and the steps we are taking to protect it from extinction. We hope that Chance will have many visitors, who will gain a valuable understanding of why loggerheads are vitally important to our eco-system.”
Mystic Aquarium is home to New England’s only beluga whales. Other exhibitions include penguins, sea lions and seals. The 4-D Theater is currently featuring “Planet Earth: Pole to Pole” and “SpongeBob Square Pants: the Great Jelly Rescue.” In addition, “Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below” is a fascinating exhibition charting the course of the doomed ocean liner.
About Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium is a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, and is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only beluga whales. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration. Sea Research receives major support from United Technologies Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company and Foxwoods Resort Casino. Learn more at www.mysticaquarium.org or www.searesearch.org.
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