Guests at the National Aquarium have the opportunity to meet a new loggerhead turtle hatchling who will be making a home in the Maryland: Mountains to the Sea gallery for the next year.
Aquarium staff have named the turtle hatchling Raven in honor of Baltimore’s beloved NFL football team and as a nod to the unique dark birthmarks on her face. Raven will live under the expert care of the Aquarium’s animal care team in the Coastal Beach exhibit until she is large enough to be released back into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.
Weighing just 91 grams and measuring four inches from head to tail when she arrived, Raven spent several weeks behind-the-scenes acclimating to the new environment and undergoing full monitoring.
Loggerhead turtles are endangered in the wild and face many threats, including bycatch and predation of their sandy nests. If they survive their first year, loggerheads can grow to be the largest of all hard-shelled sea turtles and are an integral part of maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.
Raven is one of many turtle hatchlings being rescued, rehabilitated and released through the Sea Turtle Awareness Program, founded by the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The National Aquarium, which has participated in the program since 2004, is one of many institutions around the country helping these hatchlings to be released back into the wild.
Sheldon, the Aquarium’s 2015 Head Start rescue, recently finished his year of residence and was released in October.
The National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program is preparing to take in other turtles this fall and winter, as animals are affected by quickly cooling waters in the Atlantic Ocean and other traumas like boat strikes. The program, celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout 2016, will rehabilitate patients in preparation for release into warmer waters in the spring and summer.