On October 19, 2016, two loggerhead sea turtles were released to the Atlantic Ocean after receiving care for more than a year at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The hatchlings arrived in August 2015 weighing approximately 3 ounces, about the size of an Oreo cookie. The turtles served as animal ambassadors, bringing to light the many hardships sea turtles face and helping to teaching about conservation efforts to Aquarium visitors. This month they swam for the first time in the ocean and weighed more than 7 pounds each and as big around as a dinner plate!
The turtles received daily attention and careful monitoring by the animal care team and received their last veterinarian check before being cleared for release. Aquarium staff transported the sea turtles to Morehead City where they joined an expedition of biologists, veterinarians and staff from several other Aquariums from around the country, along with 30 additional turtles. A boat ride landed the group in warm Gulf Stream waters where individual turtles were gently lowered via laundry basket into the Atlantic for release.
Each summer, the Aquarium works with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local sea turtle rescue organizations, accepting a limited number of hatchlings that do not make the initial trek to the ocean. Usually these turtles are discovered during routine nest excavations three days after a nest hatches.
While some of the turtles remain in North Carolina, others are fostered temporarily with Aquariums around the country. This year Mystic Aquarium, Newport Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, National Aquarium, and Virginia Aquarium joined the NC Aquariums for release of sea turtles in their care.
To review the yearlings weight and length measurements that were recorded while they were in our care, check out the table below:
|Turtle A||Turtle B|
|Date (2015-2016)||Weight (grams)||Length (centimeters)||Weight (grams)||Length (centimeters)|
Just like the yearlings that were released, our new hatchlings will also be released next year after they grow big and strong into yearlings. They continue to grow weekly! Turtle A weighs 251 grams and 11.1 cm long and Turtle B weighs 298 grams and 11.6 cm long. For more information on what to do with those numbers, please check out our lesson: Hatchling to Yearling.