Sea turtles have a challenging life. Weighing just 20 grams at birth, they face many natural predators both on the sandy beaches where they hatch and in the oceans where they dwell. Loggerheads were once actively hunted for their eggs and meat, and still are in some places of the world. Because of their low survival rate, they have been classified as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
National Aquarium staff picks up the baby turtles from North Carolina and brings them to our DC venue, where they remain in quarantine while their health and growth is closely monitored. When they’re ready, the baby loggerheads go on exhibit.
Under the Aquarium’s care, the turtles are measured monthly and undergo exams with X-rays and blood work at 6 months old and 1 year old. The staff also monitors their calcium levels to ensure healthy shell growth.
After a year of growth, National Aquarium staff returns them to North Carolina for release into the ocean. Eventually, these turtles could weigh up to 200 pounds!
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In order to help save these magnificent animals from extinction, the National Aquarium participates in a program run by the North Carolina Aquarium, which gives baby sea turtles a better chance at survival. Through this program, sea turtle hatchlings spend time in aquariums where they can safely grow. Once they are given a clean bill of health and an extra boost of nutrition, they are released back to the ocean.