Endangered Turtles Arrive in CT Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., is now home to four sea turtles – Charlotte, a juvenile green sea turtle, and three loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. Their arrival marks the first time in more than three years that the Aquarium has had sea turtles on exhibit.

“All seven species of sea turtles are either endangered or threatened,” said Don Harrington, interim director of Fish & Invertebrates at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. “The turtles’ arrival here has given us the invaluable opportunity to educate our visitors about the plight of sea turtles and how they can help these wonderful creatures.”

Charlotte came from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island , Ga. , on November 23. She was found stranded on Cumberland Island , Ga. , and taken to the center last January. Her shell and hind flippers were covered with barnacles, and she had been struck by a boat’s propeller. A CT scan and MRI revealed a fracture or break in her vertebrae and a compressed spinal cord, which partially paralyzed her intestinal tract and hind flippers. The paralysis prevents normal movement of her gastrointestinal tract, causing gas to accumulate, which makes it difficult for her to dive. As a result, she floats with her rear end up.

Though Charlotte has been deemed non-releasable, there is a chance that, with long-term rehabilitation, she could recover and possibly be released back into the ocean in future years. Until then, she is serving as an ambassador for her species while staying in “ Stingray Bay ” on the main exhibit floor. Charlotte is the first sea turtle the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has placed in an aquarium.

“It could take years for Charlotte to regain specific biological functions needed for release back into the wild. We needed to find her a home, so that we can continue to take in more injured turtles,” said Dr. Terry Norton, D.V.M., veterinarian and director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. “Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration was a good fit for Charlotte . We knew the aquarium would provide her with a good quality of life and would use her story to spread awareness of how common boat strikes are.”

The three loggerhead hatchlings arrived on October 28 from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores . One was rescued from its nest three days after hatching after showing signs of sluggishness. Another was found on a beach with a flipper injury, and the third was rescued from its nest before Tropical Storm Hanna arrived. The abnormally high tides created by the storm would have flooded the nest.

The loggerheads will be raised here until they are ready for release into North Carolina ’s waters in one to three years. In the meantime, visitors can see them in a new exhibit on the Aquarium’s main exhibit floor, opening tomorrow.

About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Presents are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated in the State of Connecticut .

Green Sea Turtles
Green sea turtles get their name from the color of their body fat, which is green from the algae and sea grass they eat. Their shells are usually dark brown in color and heart-shaped.
Males and females look the same until they mature, when males’ tails grow longer and thicker.
The green sea turtle is the slowest growing sea turtle, taking up to 40 years to mature.
The largest hard-shelled sea turtles, they can weigh up to 500 pounds and have shell lengths of up to four feet.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Loggerheads get their name from their large head size. Humans’ heads would have a diameter of three feet if it were the same proportion as a loggerhead’s.
They are primarily reddish-brown in color. Males have narrower shells and longer and thicker tails than females.
Full-grown loggerheads are between two and a half and four feet and weigh 170 to 350 pounds on average.