Posts Tagged 'turtle tuesday'

Turtle Tuesday: Baby Northern Australian Snapping Turtle!

We’re excited to share some baby news out of our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit! On the morning of February 14th, one of our herpetologists discovered a northern Australian snapping turtle hatchling!

national aquarium northern australia snapping turtle hatchling

The eggs, laid by our female Australian snapping turtle on September 4, 2013, were immediately placed in an incubator behind-the-scenes for close observation. This is the first hatchling to emerge from the group!

The National Aquarium is the only Aquarium in the United States to house this turtle species. Further more, this occasion marks the first time any facility has successfully bred northern Australian snapping turtles!

Our baby currently ways about 24 grams. Adults of this species can reach up to five kilograms in size!

national aquarium northern australia snapping turtle hatchling

Our new hatchling will remain behind-the-scenes until it is large enough to safely transition onto exhibit.

Stay tuned for more updates as our team continues to monitor the remainder of our eggs! 

Animal Rescue Update: Two Hooks Successfully Released From Loggerhead Patient!

Animal Rescue Update

Our team recently admitted two loggerheads from Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. One of the turtles, named Portsmouth, had ingested a recreational fishing hook and had to undergo surgery to remove the hook from his esophagus. We successfully removed the primary hook, but was surprised to find a second hook near the same location. The second hook was older, and more deteriorated, so they could only safely remove a portion of the hook that was visible.

loggerhead sea turtle

Animal Health staff at the National Aquarium performed a full physical exam on Portsmouth when he was transferred to our care, including radiographs (x-rays) to assess the location of the remaining hook. While radiographs are extremely helpful as a diagnostic tool, they can only provide a one-dimensional view. Our veterinary staff determined that a Computed Tomography (CT) scan would be a very helpful diagnostic for Portsmouth’s condition. A CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that essentially x-rays a body (or area of a body) around a central axis and produces a large volume of x-ray image ‘slices’ of the body – similar to slicing a loaf of bread. With the help of computer software, the image ‘slices’ can be compiled and manipulated into 3-dimensional images of structures.

Performing a CT scan on a large sea turtle like Portsmouth can be challenging, but the process is very quick (only a few seconds) and is not invasive. In fact, the most challenging part of the process was convincing Portsmouth to leave his watery world for the short trip. Portsmouth was cooperative during the approximately 30-second imaging process, and our veterinarians were able to consult with the radiologists on site about the possibilities of the hooks positioning.

On August 28, 2013, our veterinarians teamed up with Dr. Adam Gonzales, DVM from the Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine & Oncology for an endoscopy procedure in hopes of extracting the remainder of the second hook as seen on the x-rays and CT scans. While Portsmouth did have to be sedated for this procedure, the hook itself was fairly easy to remove as it was simply lying among the papillae. Papillae are keratinized projections within the throat which point inward towards the stomach. They are presumed to trap food while excess water is expelled prior to swallowing.

In just a few hours, Portsmouth was back to swimming in his pool, and had worked up quite the appetite – blue crabs, watch out!

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Endangered Species Week: The Bog Turtle

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Meet the Bog Turtle.

bog turtle

The bog turtle is the smallest species of turtle found in the United States (and one of the smallest species of turtle in the world)! Easy identified by the orange blotches found on either side of its head, this turtle gets its name from the areas of moist, soggy ground within wetlands known as “bogs.”

Bog turtles are only commonly found throughout the Northeast coast and, unfortunately, populations have been seriously impacted by the effects of climate change. Erratic weather patterns, in particular, throw a wrench in the fragile balance between these turtles and their habitat. Other major factors for their population decline include habitat loss, due to human construction and development, as well as a high demand for the pet trade.

This species was granted protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1997 – at which time, the northern population of bog turtles (from New York to Maryland) had declined by 50 percent.

Currently, the total number of bog turtles found in the United States is unknown. The estimated range is only between 2,500 and 10,000 turtles.

Want to help the bog turtle? Join us at our next habitat restoration event!

Stay tuned for more Endangered Species Week features! 


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