Animal Update: McHenry the Loggerhead Ready for Release

McHenry, the loggerhead sea turtle in our care for the past year as part of the Loggerhead Head Start Program, is ready for release!

Published October 25, 2018

McHenry spent the last year in our Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit not only growing, but learning several key skills he’ll need in his natural environment, including how to hunt and scavenge for food. McHenry also practiced maintaining buoyancy and gained strong swimming skills.

McHenry the loggerhead sea turtle swimming in Coastal Beaches

Over the past year, McHenry was measured and weighed monthly, and at milestones including six months and one year, he received more extensive exams, such as X-rays and blood work. He was fed a diet of mostly fish—including smelt, mackerel, capelin and herring—and also received a vegetable diet of lettuce and nutrient-rich sea turtle gel.

He was always fed in different areas and different ways (never hand-fed!) to limit any human association with food before heading back into the ocean. Recently, McHenry was given a live food test, where he proved his ability to locate, track, hunt and kill live prey. He passed with flying colors!

McHenry is now in the care of the North Carolina Aquarium, and will be released into the Gulf Stream later this month.

The National Aquarium has participated in the Loggerhead Head Start Program, which is run by the North Carolina Aquarium, since 2004. As part of this program, the Aquarium is one of many institutions from across the country that rehabilitates sea turtle hatchlings with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitats. This program helps to save loggerhead sea turtles from extinction by giving baby sea turtles a better chance at survival.

Learn more about the Loggerhead Head Start Program!

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