After a cross-country flight the young loggerhead turtle, weighing nearly 100 pounds, landed in San Diego Wednesday night.
"Just last night we flew in a loggerhead sea turtle all the way from Charleston South Carolina right here into San Diego,” said Jenn Nero Muffatt of Birch Aquarium. "We’re really excited."
Eight months ago, the turtle was found injured and abandoned on a cooling canal off a power plant in New Jersey.
The turtle has scoliosis. Its rear flippers are paralyzed and tucked in under its shell.
Veterinarians in South Carolina deemed the turtle non-releasable after determining that the loggerhead would not survive if reintroduced to the wild. South Carolina Aquarium needed to find a permanent home for the turtle and reached out to institutions approved by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the U.S.
Birch Aquarium, with its experienced husbandry team, volunteered to provide a home for the injured loggerhead and secured the appropriate approvals from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Through a fundraising campaign, the aquarium raised more than $50,000 to support the housing and rehabilitative care of the turtle over the next year.
“There is a lot of work that goes into the rehabilitation so we try to save each one,” said Fernando Nosratpour, co-curator at Birch Aquarium.
Loggerheads are the largest of the hard-shelled turtles, typically weighing 165 to 360 pounds as adults.
By mid-January, aquarium visitors should be able to see the turtle in its new home.