Loggerhead sea turtle training/feedingBy Virginia Fishes In Virginia Fishes
Before a new sea turtle is introduced into our Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, we must first ensure (among many other things) that it will be able to acquire food regularly and be accessible to staff. The most common practice is to “target train” them or condition them to associate visual – and often audible – stimuli with food. Fortunately, NC Aquarium had already begun process of training our current turtle to feed regularly from tongs. However, new surroundings have required our new turtle to learn a new routine and feeding schedule before it can safely go into CBA. We began by simply acclimating the turtle to a regular daily feeding at 2 pm daily; this coincides with the time it would be fed when in CBA. As the turtle has become accustomed to staff and its new schedule, we have introduced the visual stimuli – simply a blue Kydex disc on an algae scraper – at each feeding. The new turtle has slowly become accustomed to seeing the target and has begun to equate the presence of the strange blue disc with the magical appearance of food. Eventually, 2 pm = feeding time, target = location of food and we all settle into an efficient and reliable routine.
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