Caretta is the Aquarium’s resident loggerhead and favorite among visitors and staff. This big sea turtle has a big personality and is known to steal the spotlight during daily dive shows and staff meetings by swimming front-and-center in the Great Ocean Tank. She also loves to take naps along the coral reef.
This Tuesday, she received a clean bill of health after Veterinarian Shane Boylan administered her annual check-up. Just in time for her upcoming August birthday, she received the “spa treatment” during her check-up, as staff used a scrubber to remove the algae from her shell. The growth of algae on a sea turtle’s shell is normal, and the scrubbing can also be compared to a “back scratch” that feels good to the animal.
Her check-up also consisted of a routine physical exam and bloodwork.
Caretta will turn 28 years old next month, and weighs over 220 pounds. She came to the Aquarium in 2001 at the age of 14. As a hatchling, a couple had taken her out of her natural habitat on a beach in Florida to keep her as a pet. Not realizing how large loggerheads become, they soon discovered that she was outgrowing the small enclosure they had kept her in. Once too big to care for and deemed non-releasable due to her upbringing in captivity, she was brought to the Aquarium du Quebec in Canada. The South Carolina Aquarium was in search of a sea turtle and she was transferred to our facility to live in the Great Ocean Tank in 2001.
If you see a turtle in the wild, leave it in its natural habitat where it can thrive and maintain its role in the ecosystem. All seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered, and removing them from the wild is illegal.
Caretta has been trained to swim into a box for her daily feedings, medical exams and husbandry procedures. Training is one form of Caretta’s daily enrichment, but her box also benefits the sharks in the Great Ocean Tank. She was known to bravely steal the shark’s food during their feeding time. She now swims into her box before the sharks are fed.
Help us celebrate Caretta’s birthday this August! During the week of August 10-14, we will honor Caretta with a special birthday card that all of our visitors can sign with their birthday wishes. We will also treat Caretta to a birthday cake made out of ice for her to enjoy as enrichment on August 10.