Turtle Spotlight: Exciting Moves & Gertrude’s New Home!

February 11th was an exciting and busy day here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium! Not only did many of our residents get re-located to different pools, but also one of our rehab turtles, Gertrude, was given a new home… in Kansas City!

The day began by pulling every one of our residents and giving them an annual physical. In the world of turtles, a physical means that the turtle has a full blood sample taken; they get weighed, and then measured before being returned to their pool (or before being put into their new pool!) it took approximately 3 hours to complete this process on each of our 9 resident sea turtles. We would like to thank our interns and the volunteers who came in very early that morning to assist with this project, because we would not have been able to complete this huge undertaking without all of you help.

While Titus, Cocoa, and our stubborn boy, Norman, remain at home in “Turtle Bayou”, Bailey has moved inside from “Sawyer’s Passage”, and is now sharing “Turtle Cove” with Stubby, Rob, and Cupid. Max, Madam, Molly, and Stumpy were relocated outside to “Sawyer’s Passage”, and they seem to be enjoying their new, larger pool!

February 11th was also a big day for Gertrude (October’s “Spotlight Turtle”) because she was picked up by staff members from Kansas City’s Sea Life Aquarium, where she was transported to become a permanent resident! Gertie is the state of Missouri’s FIRST sea turtle, and the staff at the Sea Life Aquarium is excited to have her, as we were to find her a new (and permanent!) home. We have been lucky enough to receive updates on Gertie’s progress (she was moved out of quarantine only 4 days after her arrival) and are happy to know she is in a beautiful exhibit, a very large pool filled with rocks and fish, and is in the hands of some excellent Sea Life Aquarium Staff members that will give her a great quality of life. While Gertie will be missed, she was a successful Clearwater Marine Aquarium rehabilitation story, with a great ending! Information about Gertie’s new home can be found on the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium’s website, and footage documenting her travels can be found on YouTube!

Posted in Turtles

Posted in Animals

Desensitization – Exposing an animal to a stimulus using time or experience to drive the stimulus value towards neutral. A process of changing and animal’s perception of an event, negative or positive, to a neutral perception, as evidenced by the animal’s lack of response to the event when compared to a previous baseline.

Desensitization is a critical part of training because it is the process of an animal getting used to a new stimulus through the gradual exposure to it. A stimulus can take many forms whether it is people, noises, lighting, weather conditions (ex. rain), or anything that an animal can perceive as new or frightening. Whenever presenting something new in an animal’s environment it is a wise decision to introduce it slowly over a period of time. A slow and calm introduction of new items will help maintain the animal’s trust. Trust allows for better husbandry care and the ability to work closely with the animals.

We have desensitized our resident animals to a variety of different stimuli. In the top left photo we have been working with all of our resident dolphins to be desensitized to an ultrasound. This includes the veterinarians, ultrasound equipment, and using the ultrasound. The middle left photo was taken during the preparation phase for the movie Dolphin Tale; we were working on desensitizing Winter to “filming cameras.” We used a gas can and foam pieces to make a mock camera, this way when the real cameras were brought in she would not react to them. In the bottom right photo we were taking routine husbandry photos of Cooper. To do this we had to desensitize the photographer and touching his hind legs. As you can see this behavior takes a lot of trust on Cooper’s part because he is ventral in the water and he is allowing the trainer to touch and manipulate his hind legs.

Posted in Animals
CMA

“A sea turtle protection plan includes many popular South Florida beaches in the new critical habitat zone. The entire Palm Beach County coast will be part of the Loggerhead turtle protection zone if a US Fish and Wildlife Service proposal is approved. The northern section of the Broward County coastline is also inside the designated area.   The US Fish and Wildlife agency wants to make 739 miles of the coast from North Carolina to Mississippi a critical habitat area for the threatened species of sea turtles. Loggerhead turtles make annual pilgrimages to the area to lay their eggs.

The federal agency proposal unveiled on Friday include more than 40 beaches in Florida. The Canaveral National Seashore is also on the list of sea turtle critical habitat locations. The proposed habitat protection plan is not expected to have a negative impact on beachgoers. The US Fish and Wildlife proposal could potentially impact beach renourishment projects and the garnering of federal permits.   The coastal regions that have long been the nesting place for the Loggerhead turtles have changed significantly. Sea turtles have instinctively journeyed to the area for thousands of years. In 2012, more than 58,000 sea turtles nests were found o Florida beaches.   Sea turtles are among the most ancient creatures on Earth. A total of seven species still alive today have reportedly been swimming around the ocean for 110 million years.   Unlike tortoises and other species of turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their heads and legs into their shells.”

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Posted in Turtles
CMA