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From the Curator: Healthy sea life in the bay

Published August 12, 2009

From Jack Cover, General Curator at the National Aquarium Sunday morning I went down to Kent Island to collect comb jellies for the Aquarium's new Jellies exhibit. I took a boat out on No Name creek, which is just north of Romancoke. It was a partly cloudy day and the water was fairly calm as I looked around for comb jellies.Chesapeake Bay I saw a lot of Atlantic sea nettles, which we have plenty of at the Aquarium, but very few combs. I was drifting about 200-300 yards east of No Name creek (a bit northeast of the Romancoke public pier) staring  into the water for comb jellies, which were very few and far between.  I know they were there but were not coming to the surface because the conditions were just not right- small waves, they like perfect calm. As I continued to look I saw a cownose ray swim along the surface about 50 feet away. All was quiet and mostly still. Then suddenly, about 4 feet off the side of the boat , a big object launched out of the water like a polaris missile. I was completely startled and, at first, thought a diver was blowing up out of the water. It turned out to be an adult loggerhead sea turtle who was in obvious need of a big  breath of air and launched partly out of the water! The turtle was startled to see me and my boat and quickly submerged again . It moved away and popped up a total of 4 times to get quick breaths. I never saw it again after the four breath but it was headed in the direction of Cox creek. It's head was massive and unfortunately I never got to see the tail to see if it was a male or female. I’m guessing that it was foraging in this area for horseshoe crabs and blue crabs, which are both abundant. I have spent a great deal of time out on these waters and have always hoped to encounter a sea turtle in the Bay. Yesterday, while looking for jellies, that wish finally came true. Thought you’d like to hear about a healthy sea turtle out there doing its thing!
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