Friday, December 21, 2012

JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL: Baby Loggerhead Finds "Forever" Home at Adventure Aquarium


A JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL
One Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle’s Journey of Survival
Leads to “Forever” Home at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium

Meet Ozzy, an undeniably adorable rehabilitated Loggerhead Sea turtle yearling (toddler) who permanently joined the Adventure Aquarium animal collection this week!  Ozzy is the first of what will be an extensive collection of turtles featured this winter during Adventure Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Turtles: Journey of Survival, opening to the public on January 14, 2014.

The new, limited-time exhibit will showcase an extensive array of land and aquatic turtle and tortoise species from all over the world, ranging from turtles no larger than a postage stamp to a sea turtle that weighs as much as a motorcycle!   Unlike many of the new turtle species, which will be at Adventure Aquarium only for a limited time, Ozzy has found  his “forever” home at Adventure Aquarium.

 “Ozzy is so unbelievably cute and we’re delighted to welcome him to the Adventure Aquarium family,” said Nikki Grandinetti, Curator, Fish & Invertebrates at Adventure Aquarium.  “We’re equally thrilled that our guests will be able to see Ozzy up close and in person, ultimately inspiring them learn more about these amazing animals.”
As content as Ozzy is today, frolicking and exploring his new exhibit across from the Aquarium’s 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit, his life had a challenging beginning. From the moment sea turtles hatch, they face an uphill battle for survival. Fortunately, aquariums across the country, like Adventure Aquarium, aim to help as many sea turtles as possible. Thanks to an extensive network of organizations, volunteers and aquariums dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles, Ozzy’s future is now filled with hope.

Loggerhead Sea turtles often live for decades in the open ocean, but it is their first few minutes of life when they are most vulnerable. Nests deposited on coastal beaches typically hatch from July through October, and as they emerge, the “hatchlings” scramble out of their nests and toward the ocean in a race for life against predators, disorienting light sources and other obstacles.  Each year, some of these hatchlings are too weak or disoriented to get to the ocean on their own, as was the case with Ozzy.  Thankfully, organizations like the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are able give turtles like Ozzy a second chance at life.

WRC volunteers excavated Ozzy from his nest and transported him to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, where aquarists could help him recuperate.  As Ozzy began to show improvement, aquarist noticed that he was not growing as rapidly as the others and that his back flippers were slightly deformed. Ozzy also had a condition that caused him to be negatively buoyant - a fancy way of saying that he has a tendency to sink to the bottom.  These conditions made Ozzy vulnerable to predation in the wild so he was deemed “non-releasable” by US Fish and Wildlife.
“While Ozzy surely would not have survived in his natural habitat, we are confident that he can maintain a normal life under Adventure Aquarium’s specialized care,” said Dr. Michael Hyatt, Adventure Aquarium’s Veterinarian, who has previous experience working with rehabilitated sea animals.

As a permanent member of Adventure Aquarium’s collection, Ozzy will be monitored and well cared for by the Husbandry and Veterinary staff.  He will also serve as an ambassador for Loggerhead Sea turtles worldwide, inspiring guests of all ages to admire, and ultimately help protect, sea turtles in the wild.
 
“One of the many cool things about having Ozzy join the Adventure Aquarium family at such a young age is that Passholders and returning guests will be able to see Ozzy mature through the years; so he’ll literally grow up along with our guests,” explained Grandinetti. “In that regard, Ozzy is not just a member of the Adventure Aquarium family, he’s a member of all of our families!”
Ozzy’s story is certainly one of survival, but it is much more than that; it is a shining example of how, through the care and action of others, we can all make a difference to ultimately help protect Mother Earth and her many inhabitants.  To learn more about Ozzy and Adventure Aquarium’s limited-time exhibit: Turtles: Journey of Survival, which opens to the public on January 14, 2013, visit www.AdventureAquarium.com.

To follow Ozzy's story and learn more about all the new turtle species featured at Adventure Aquarium during this limited-time exhibit (Turtles: Journey of Survival), follow Adventure Aquarium's blog at http://adventureaquarium.wordpress.com/
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ABOUT ADVENTURE AQUARIUM
There are always more NEW things to see and do at Adventure Aquarium, where families can explore, discover and play 365 days a year! Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning guest, you can count on new hands-on activities, new animals and exhibits and unforgettable moments of magic with biologists. Check out the all new KidZone, come out of your shell this winter forTurtles: Journey of Survival, offered January 14 through March 24; and don’t miss the highly anticipated return of the 800 pound American Alligator, Mighty Mike, who is back by popular demand on April 1, 2013. Guests can also get hands-on at seven different touch exhibits; experience massive hippos nose-to-nose; and witness the most impressive shark collection on the East Coast, including the ONLY Great Hammerhead sharks exhibited in the country! Accredited by the American Zoological and Aquarium Association, Adventure Aquarium admission is $23.95 for adults and $17.95 for children ages 2-12. To learn more, visit www.AdventureAquarium.com and let your “Adventure” begin!

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