North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Tiny Rescued Sea Turtle Arrives at Temporary Home

Monterey bay loggerhead_new_2

A new Loggerhead Sea Turtle hatchling recently splashed into his new temporary home in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Open Sea gallery! The tiny turtle will stay at the aquarium for one to two years, while aquarists carefully rear it to a larger size and prepare it for release back into the ocean.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores loans rescued turtles to aquariums around the country as a way to share the story of this endangered species, while the youngsters grow large enough for release. When they are ready, the turtles are flown back to North Carolina for release into their native waters.

In the wild, Loggerheads migrate long distances, so they’re particularly vulnerable to accidental capture by commercial fisheries. The turtles can become caught in shrimp trawler nets or entangled in long-lines.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium recently released its third Loggerhead back into the Atlantic, alongside other rescued reptiles from U.S. zoos and aquariums. To stay updated on the journey of the newly released juvenile loggerhead, who has logged nearly 600 miles in just over a week, follow #TravelingTurtle on Twitter and Instagram! And check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's tumblr to learn how aquariums and zoos across the country are working together to help this endangered species:

Photo and Video Courtesy: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Information about the Sea Turtle Program from North Carolina Aquariums:

Coastal North Carolina is a nesting site for Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta), Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and occasionally Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) Sea Turtles.

Sea Turtles may live for several decades in the open oceans but their lives are most at risk during the first few minutes after they emerge from the nest. Nests deposited on the beach from May through August usually hatch at night from July through October. Hatchlings scramble quickly out of the nest and toward the ocean in a race for life against predators, disorienting light sources and other obstacles.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) oversees the monitoring of nests and hatchlings through an extensive network of volunteers and institutions, including the North Carolina Aquariums. Sometimes hatchlings are too weak to get to the ocean on their own or are found far from the ocean if they’ve become disoriented. These hatchlings are brought to the Aquariums for a brief period of care prior to being released into the wild. Hatchlings recuperate in a carefully controlled environment, where Aquarists ensure that the animals eat and demonstrate healthy activity such as diving.

Most of these post-crawl hatchlings are released immediately directly into the Gulf Stream offshore. Although detailed movements of juvenile Sea Turtles are not well known, it has been determined that they likely spend their first 15 to 20 years feeding and growing in warmer waters, such as the Gulf Stream, before they reach sexual maturity. It is estimated that one in 1,000 turtles will reach this stage.

Continue reading "Tiny Rescued Sea Turtle Arrives at Temporary Home" »

Tiny Baby Horseshoe Crabs at Pine Knoll Shores

Horseshoe crab babies logo 4x6

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores husbandry staff recently collected a total of six Horseshoe Crab hatchlings of varying sizes from nearby tidal areas. 
Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs lay eggs 2,000 to 30,000 eggs, which hatch approximately 2 weeks later.  Hatchlings stay in tidal areas for about a year before traveling into deeper areas of the ocean.
Despite their name, horseshoe crabs are actually more closely related to spiders than crabs.
These hatchlings will undergo a month-long quarantine before being included in the aquarium's invertebrate touch tanks. 

Horseshoe crabs - instagram photo 5x5

Horseshoe crab baby logo

Ahoy, Shark Pups!


Seven Bonnethead Shark pups are cruising the waters at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  Born in mid-November, the pups are thriving in a behind-the scenes tank at the aquarium.

Photo Credt:  North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Bonnethead Sharks are the smallest of the Hammerhead Sharks.  The purpose of their wide, shovel-like heads, known as cephalofoils, has been debated for decades. It is now believed that their flat heads, with eyes located on the outer edges, give them a very wide field of vision.  Sharks in the Hammerhead family can see 360 degrees, meaning they can see to the front, to the sides, and behind themselves.  The placement of the eyes also allows the Sharks to see above and below themselves as well.

Such a visual field is an advantage for any animal, allowing it to more easily spot predators and prey. 

Bonnethead Sharks are found along the east and west coasts of North and South America.  Adults are shy and harmless, growing three to five feet long.   They are often seen swimming together in small groups.

See more photos of the pups below the fold.

Continue reading "Ahoy, Shark Pups!" »

Eno the Orphan Otter

Little Eno got off to a rough start when his mother was accidentally killed by a car in the spring of this year. Luckily, staff at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores found him early enough to save him. Unlucky for the aquarists, raising a baby otter is a lot of work, requiring around the clock bottle-feeding until he was old enough for fish. Additionally, they had to teach him to swim and hunt. Now six months old, he loves to romp (but apparently still enjoys eating and sleeping).

Eno the otter bottle feeding cute

Eno the otter sleeping

Eno stops to smell the flowers2

Continue reading "Eno the Orphan Otter" »