This week we are meeting Jacob, one of our aquarists.
Hello, I am Jacob and I work as one of the aquarist at the Aquarium. I am in charge of caring for our 60 pound green sea turtle, Shelldon. I started as a summer camper at the Aquarium when I was young. Once I was in high school, I began volunteering in the Education and Design Departments. Later I became an intern in the Husbandry Department before being hired. Among other exhibits, I am responsible for the Cape Fear Shoals which is the largest exhibit at the aquarium holding 235,000 gallons of water. This is where you will find Shelldon.
He is a very active animal and the large exhibit size helps to give the animal plenty of swimming room. Aquarium staff feed Shelldon five times a week. Green sea turtles eat little meat when full grown and instead rely heavily on a diet of greens. To make sure Shelldon eats similarly to the way he would in the wild, I prepare mostly greens while adding little meat to supplement the diet. Because of Shelldon’s high activity level I feed him roughly 1-2% of his body weight in food. He eats clam, fish, crab and gel food, which is about 35% of his diet. The greens include green pepper, collards, kale, broccoli, and lettuce. Different amounts of each green are fed each day. Also, two calcium tablets are added into the gel food to keep his bones and shell strong. Eating calcium rich blue crabs is another way for him to get calcium. A proper diet is important for Shelldon to stay strong and active.
Once the food is prepared, I take it to the third floor of the Aquarium and lower a basket especially made for Shelldon down into the water of the Cape Fear Shoals. The basket is made so the turtle can feed without other animals stealing his food. It also provides a specific location for the feeding to take place. The turtle knows once the basket is lowered into the water, it is time to eat. Once the turtle is in the basket the feeding begins. It takes between five to ten minutes for Shelldon to eat. When he is finishedI lower one side of the basket underwater until the turtle swims out and then remove the basket until next feeding time. You can watch Jacob feeding Shelldon in this video
How did we design the basket we use for Shelldon to eat? Try this engineering lesson, Shelldon’s Kitchen, and create your own way to feed a sea turtle. Our loggerhead hatchlings are eating well along with Shelldon. Since we missed last week, here is a table with all of the weights and lengths to date:
2014-2015 Turtle Weights and Lengths
|Turtle A||Turtle B|
|Date (2014-15)||Weight (grams)||Length (centimeters)||Weight (grams)||Length (centimeters)|
Not sure what to do with this weight and length? Learn more in our Hatchling to Yearling lesson plan.
Have you been by to see our hatchlings lately? You may notice them spending a lot of time floating like this:
Why do you think they’re doing that? Hatchling turtles tuck their flippers in so their shadows don’t look so much like food. Would you be fooled by his shadow? Share your thoughts in the comments below.