Raven has been living in our Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit since she arrived at the National Aquarium last October. After a year in our care, she has grown tremendously. She arrived weighing a mere 100 grams and now weighs more than 2,640 grams! Her shell was about 9 centimeters long upon arrival and she’s grown to about 27 centimeters in length, which is approximately the size of a dinner plate.
During her time with us, Raven has learned to dive, hunt and scavenge for food. Loggerheads are omnivorous and eat a wide range of food including fish, bivalves, jellies and aquatic plant matter. Our team provided Raven with a diet of fish and bivalves—including shrimp, scallops, smelt, herring, capelin, mackerel and krill—as well as vegetables, including bok choy, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce and green peas.
Raven was recently administered a "live food test," where a live feeder fish was placed in her enclosure and she had to prove she could hunt the animal on her own without assistance. She passed with flying colors! Raven could locate, hunt and consume her live food efficiently, proving she is ready for release!
Next week Raven will travel to North Carolina, where she will be released alongside other turtles from the Loggerhead Head Start Program. This release is not open to the public, but we will share updates upon our team’s return. In addition, the team charged with caring for our loggerhead turtles will return with a new turtle to steward for another year!
The National Aquarium has participated in the Loggerhead Head Start Program, which is run by the North Carolina Aquarium, since 2004. As part of this program, the Aquarium is one of many institutions from across the country that rehabilitates sea turtle hatchlings with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. This program helps to save loggerhead sea turtles from extinction by giving baby sea turtles a better chance at survival.
Stay tuned for more updates about the Loggerhead Head Start Program!