After several weeks of nominations and voting from the public, the National Aquarium today announced the name of the baby loggerhead that has been keeping residence in their Coastal Beach exhibit since November – Sheldon, named after the much-loved character from “The Big Bang Theory”. Selecting Sheldon’s name was a public affair – National Aquarium accepted more than 2,000 votes from the community, with 27 percent of the votes going toward the winning name.
After reviewing and considering almost 20,000 entries that were submitted from January 11-22, Boh, Kai, Sheldon, Ziggy and Snape were selected as the five finalists by a panel of National Aquarium staff from various departments. The finalists were announced on January 25, and the public submitted an overwhelming number of votes between then and January 29, when the voting concluded. Ziggy was the runner up with 22 percent of the votes and Snape came in third place with 18 percent of the votes.
“We’re so happy Sheldon has found a home at that Aquarium and very pleased that the public was so involved in naming our loggerhead,” said Elizabeth Claus, senior aquarist at the National Aquarium. “We are appreciative of the all the support we received from our community, from suggesting names to voting on their favorite. The entire naming process has been incredible for both the community and National Aquarium staff.”
Of the name submissions, three names were cast by family and friends in memory of loved ones recently lost. In an effort to celebrate their memories, the Aquarium announced on January 25 the naming of three rescue turtles currently in their care as Ed, Franklin and Haley.
The baby loggerhead currently resides in the Coastal Beach exhibit, part of the larger Maryland Mountains to the Sea gallery exhibit, and will reside at the National Aquarium for one year before being released into the wild. Sheldon joined the National Aquarium as part of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores Sea Turtle Awareness Program, which works to rescue and rehabilitate imperiled hatchlings.
Loggerhead turtles are named for their large heads that support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and sea urchins. They are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shell compared to other sea turtles. However, loggerhead turtles are seriously threatened by “bycatch” which is the accidental capture of marine animals in fishing gear. Sea turtles are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and are essential to maintaining the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.