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Update on New Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Ambassador turtle "Shelldon" is growing.

The ABQ BioPark welcomed a baby loggerhead sea turtle in October 2017.

The turtle, “Shelldon,” has grown quite a bit since arrival—Shelldon’s weight has increased by five and its shell size has doubled since arrival.

“This is right on track with the expected growth rates for a loggerhead of this age,” said Richard Lerner, ABQ BioPark Aquarium curator. “Shelldon also displays normal behavior of a wild sea turtle diving and looking for food.”

In fact, sometimes Shelldon dives down to take a nip at some of the lettuce thrown in for its tank mates (different species of fish).

It is too early to determine Shelldon’s gender. The turtle will eventually move to the coral reef tank as it grows larger.

The growth of Shelldon the turtle at the Aquarium.

Shelldon came from the North Carolina Aquarium, which rehabilitates dozens of weakened and late-hatching sea turtles each year. Many of them are released after a brief period of care and some stay longer to become part of the sea turtle loan program. Through a cooperative agreement between the North Carolina Aquarium and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the turtles travel to Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities that have strong conservation messaging.

The hatchling is on loan to the ABQ BioPark for a year or two. After that, Shelldon will return to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and be released along with the others sea turtle ambassadors.

Of the seven sea turtle species, six are endangered. The loggerhead is classified as threatened. Sea turtles face a host of threats including climate change, commercial fishing, artificial lighting on beaches that disorients hatchlings and pollution.

“We are very pleased to welcome this new addition to the Aquarium,” said Aquarium Manager Holly Casman. “We hope that having a baby sea turtle on exhibit will help teach our visitors about the plight of sea turtles and inspire them to take actions to save them.”