Ah… a long, leisurely nap floating in a peaceful water current. That sounds lovely… in theory. But have you ever spotted our resident sea turtle, Caretta, taking a snooze? You’ll frequently find her wedged between the acrylic and the coral structures in the Great Ocean Tank in a rather interesting position. Of all the 385,000 gallons of sleeping space, why does Caretta choose to lodge herself in this corner? We chatted with Arnold Postell, dive safety officer and curator of large exhibits, for answers. As it turns out, her resting behavior has more to do with biology than you may think.
Consider ocean currents the highways of the high seas. Their natural rhythms aid marine life in migrating from one place to the next, but the consistent cadence means taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down. When sea turtles opt for a snooze, if they don’t “park” themselves in some aspect, they could be in a far different location when they awake!
In preparation for a nap, sea turtles tend to wedge their bodies in a particular position, using corals or rocks as their own personal traffic cones, to ensure the only drifting they do… is off to sleep!
As a hatchling, Caretta was illegally taken from the beach and raised by humans before finding a permanent home at the Aquarium. Despite Caretta’s origin story and unconventional early years, she still displays innate behaviors typical of what you’d see any sea turtle in the wild do, like finding ways to remain stationary while taking a snooze!
August is cause for celebration, because Caretta is turning 36 this month! Sea turtles typically live between 80–100 years old, so Caretta has plenty of birthdays left to celebrate and is in excellent health thanks to our animal care and vet teams!
Stop by to wish Caretta a happy birthday during your next visit. Fair warning, she may be taking a snooze from all the well wishes when you arrive!
Published August 17, 2023