This week we have a guest post from our Assistant Dive Safety Officer, Kathy, who regularly dives in our Cape Fear Shoals exhibit where our green sea turtle, Shelldon, lives.
There are always sharks, eels, and lots of fish to observe when I go diving in the Cape Fear Shoals exhibit at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Yet, there’s nothing more exciting than diving with our green sea turtle.
The Aquarium held a contest to name the turtle and ‘Shelldon’ won. The turtle is a curious four-year old and has not quite grown to full size. He is about the size of a laundry basket, but will one day be the size of a love seat. We do not know if Shelldon is male or female, as the turtle is not sexually mature. The only way to tell currently is to do a DNA test which is an invasive process and requires an abundant of resources.
When we turn on the light to at our dive bench and start putting together our SCUBA gear, Shelldon swims closer to the shallow area where we lower the dive ladder. Sometimes, curious Shelldon gets in the way of the ladder, and the divers have to wait for him to swim away before they can descend into the tank.
Shelldon may have a brain the size of a walnut, but is very curious about who is entering the tank. The turtle takes interest in our equipment, our movements, and even our bubbles. Shelldon gets so close sometimes that a diver may accidentally get a smack in the head from turtle flippers. At least, we think it is an accident.
Other than the divers, Shelldon is the only air breather in the 235,000 gallon Cape Fear Shoals exhibit. Shelldon is a reptile and can stay under water up to four hours without taking a breath when being very still. If very active, Shelldon will ascend to the surface after about four minutes underwater. Although not full grown, Shelldon has full command of his environment. He and the sharks stay out of each other’s way and even the eel lives in peaceful existence with Shelldon, the Green sea turtle.
Join us at one of our dive shows for the chance to talk to a diver in our tank! We offer free daily dive shows open to the public every day at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM. If you’d like to see Shelldon swim with divers in our Cape Fear Shoals exhibit from a birds-eye view, check out our Behind-the-Scenes Tours here. While visiting, you can also have the chance to see one of our young sea turtle hatchlings on exhibit that are continuing to grow! This week Turtle A is 15.5 cm long and weighs 578 grams. Turtle B is 16.2 cm long and weighs 656 grams. For more information on what to do with those numbers, please check out our lesson: Hatchling to Yearling.