October 21, 2015
Abe, the Virginia Living Museum’s 4-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, was released into the ocean off Atlantic Beach, N.C., Wednesday.
Abe is the largest of 47 sea turtles from nine zoos and aquariums around the country that were tagged and released through the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The sea turtles, which included loggerheads, greens and Kemp’s ridleys, had been rescued along the beaches of coastal North Carolina and rehabilitated at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. There were 19 adults and 28 hatchlings.
Abe was one of the adults that had been on loan as “animal ambassadors” at aquariums across the country after first being taken to the N.C. Aquarium as rescued hatchlings.
The Virginia Living Museum collaborates with North Carolina Aquariums to care for and raise juvenile loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta. Each year female loggerheads make their way ashore to nest along the beaches of coastal North Carolina. These nests are federally protected and continuously monitored by a network of volunteers and institutions to ensure the maximum number of hatchlings survive. Healthy hatchlings are protected from predation by the observers, but otherwise left to make their way into the sea on their own, while weak or disoriented hatchlings are collected to be nursed back to health at the North Carolina Aquariums and their partner institutions.
The vast majority of the hatchlings that are collected are released as soon as they are healthy and strong enough to survive in the wild, while a few of these turtles remain on public display at the N.C. Aquariums or their partner facilities, including the Virginia Living Museum. Each of these living ambassadors helps to educate the public and inspire conservation efforts to ensure the survival of their species, all the while growing large enough to fend off virtually any natural predator by the time of their release.
The Virginia Living Museum’s loggerhead was the oldest – at 4 years – and the largest – at nearly 150 pounds, of the turtles released Wednesday.
Abe’s journeys can be tracked at www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=240/ after the site is updated with Wednesday’s tagging information.
The Virginia Living Museum has a new loggerhead that will go on exhibit later this fall.
The museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Aug. 27.
Admission is $17 for adults, $13 for children (ages 3-12)