A familiar face is greeting guests from a new space! 25, our male loggerhead sea turtle, has moved out of the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium where the other sea turtles live and now resides in our Norfolk Canyon exhibit, which is our main shark habitat. The decision to move 25 out of Light Tower was made both for the well-being of all four sea turtles as well as to comply with updated federal guidelines for sea turtles in human care.
Have questions? Read more of the details behind this move below!
Why did you move 25 into the Norfolk Canyon exhibit?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees sea turtles in human care in the United States, has introduced regulations to house male and female sea turtles separately. 25 is a male loggerhead sea turtle, and our three other sea turtles are female. Therefore, we moved 25 to comply with these rules in addition to sustaining our turtles’ well-being.
Is it safe to put a sea turtle in with sharks?
The species of sharks that live in the Norfolk Canyon exhibit (sandbar, sand tiger, and nurse) do not prey on sea turtles - and sea turtles do not prey on them. However, our Animal Care team is monitoring 25, the sharks, and the fish closely to evaluate their interactions, if there are any.
Were 25 and the female loggerhead mates?
Sea turtles do not form bonded pairs with other turtles with whom they mate. Though 25 showed interest in Big Momma, she did not reciprocate this interest. In addition to allowing more room for each turtle to enjoy, moving 25 out of Light Tower alleviated the stress associated with his mating attempts with her.
Will 25 be lonely? Does he miss the other turtles?
Sea turtles are solitary animals and do not develop close relationships with other turtles, even after extended periods of time living together.
How did you get him into the shark exhibit?
Very carefully! The process involved a combination of animal training, staff teamwork, and a forklift to help us move 25’s carrier. We did not introduce him to Norfolk Canyon immediately after removing him from Light Tower – instead, we moved him into a hospital habitat that’s separate from Norfolk Canyon but allowed him to see into it and get acclimated before we removed the barrier. We also had standby divers at the ready to monitor him once we welcomed him from the hospital area into the main exhibit.