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’Tis the Season for Tiny Turtles

New loggerhead hatchling joins National Aquarium

A baby loggerhead turtle will be celebrating her first Christmas at home at the National Aquarium. Named in honor of Baltimore’s beloved NFL football team and as a nod to the unique dark birthmarks on her face, Raven will be swimming in the Maryland: Mountains to the Sea gallery in the new year.
    Until she is large enough to be released back into the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina, Raven will receive lots of TLC from the Aquarium’s animal healh and welfare team. The rescue program, celebrating its 25th anniversary, rehabilitates patients for release into warmer waters in the spring and summer.
    Weighing just 91 grams and measuring four inches from head to tail when she arrived, Raven spent several weeks behind the scenes acclimating to the new environment and undergoing full monitoring.
    Raven is one of many hatchlings rescued so far from the ocean and rehabilitated through the Sea Turtle Awareness Program, founded by the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The National Aquarium, which has participated in the program since 2004, is one of many institutions around the country helping these hatchlings return to the wild in good health.
    Sheldon, the Aquarium’s 2015 Head Start rescue, recently finished his year of residence and was released in October.
     Endangered in the wild, loggerhead turtles face many threats, including predation of their sandy nests by shore birds and entrapment in fishing nets. If they survive their first year, loggerheads can grow to be the largest of all hard-shelled sea turtles. As such, they play a part in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.
     This is a busy season for the National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program as animals are affected by quickly cooling waters in the Atlantic as well other traumas like boat strikes.