Great news! The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, CA has acquired the federal permit necessary to host Jersey as a permanent resident! We are so excited that this non-releasable loggerhead has an opportunity to enjoy life in a 50,000-gallon tank.
To prepare Jersey for success in his/her new home, the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program staff and volunteers have recently implemented a target training regimen. Food is used as a positive reward, which has taught Jersey to respond to a visual cue placed in the water. After a few days of feeding on a red, diamond-shaped sign we chose as Jersey’s target, s/he was trying to eat the target!
Jersey requires target training because his/her back-leg paralysis would make feeding in a large exhibit tank with a sizable fish population difficult. Fish are usually aggressive during feeding, and the competition would prevent Jersey from eating food simply thrown into the water. As a result of target training, Birch Aquarium staff will be able to lure Jersey to the side of the tank during feedings and even pull him/her from the water for periodic medical examinations.
Click here to see a video of Jersey in the rehabilitation tank, hitting his/her target!
We are thrilled for Jersey’s transcontinental flight to a wonderful new home in San Diego. S/he will fly out on Wednesday, November 19. To visit Jersey and wish him/her well on the journey and meet the eight additional turtles that the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program currently has in its care, take a Behind-the-Scenes Sea Turtle Hospital tour, offered at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. daily.
All the best,
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager