Around this time of year, we begin to think about the things for which we are thankful. At the Aquarium, we appreciate all our staff, especially those that work so hard to care for our animals. Below you can read an interview with one of our Aquarists, Carol Richard, who takes care of the sea turtle hatchlings.
How did you begin working with sea turtles?
I always had a passion for sea turtles. I finally got the opportunity to work with them when I became a volunteer in the Aquarium’s Husbandry department in 2011. I was hired to join the Animal Care Team in 2012 and became responsible for the daily care of our resident sea turtles and temporary rehabilitation animals.
In what ways do you care for sea turtles at the Aquarium?
I am responsible for the care of all sea turtles at the Aquarium. First our team cares for two Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings each year. These animals serve as ambassadors for sea turtles and help visitors better understand their importance. We care for these animals for one year and then we release them. They provide a face-to-face interaction for guests who may never see a sea turtle otherwise. By having this interaction, a deeper appreciation for the animals, and in turn their environment, can be established.
I track the hatchlings growth, care for their living space and make sure they are eating the appropriate amount of food based on their size. I prepare their food ensuring they have a balanced diet with the appropriate vitamins.
Also, each year, there are sea turtle strandings which can be associated with a cold stunning event, human interaction (i.e. nets, boats), or sometimes the cause is unknown. Our Aquarium is not a rehabilitation center, but when space and expertise is needed, we provide care for these sick or injured turtles.
How did you feel during the recent yearling release?
It is always an amazing feeling releasing the sea turtles and watching as they realize there is a vast space to explore. It only takes a few seconds before they realize they can go as deep or as far as they’d like.
What are some challenges to working with sea turtles?
The first challenge to working with sea turtles is they are messy. As they grow larger it’s a lot more work to keep them in a clean environment. The second challenge is sometimes they’re picky about their food. Figuring out how to get them to eat their vitamins takes some creative thinking.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is seeing the faces of the visitors and staff when they see the sea turtle. I also love when I’m involved with rehabilitation. It is so rewarding to care for an animal who is sick, provide it with all it needs and prepare it to return, healthy, to the ocean.
What are you thankful for regarding working with sea turtles?
I am thankful for the opportunity to provide the public with the chance to see a sea turtle and to develop an appreciation for them. I am lucky I get to be a part of inspiring generations to care for our environments.
How can someone not directly in charge of caring for sea turtles still help them?
The best way to care for sea turtles, as well as other animals, is to take care of our environment. Be conscientious of what you put down the drains, clean up your trash, reduce your carbon footprint, and if you live at or visit a beach, turn off your lights during nesting season. Also, if you live near a beach you can join a local sea turtle group to help patrol the beach during nesting season and work to educate the public on how to protect sea turtles.
The sea turtle hatchlings are growing as usual! Turtle A’s measurements are 262.5 grams and 11.4 centimeters. Turtle B is 241.4 grams and 11.4 centimeters. To keep up with weekly measurements, visit this post.