After releasing, Fisher, our previous educational turtle back to the wild in mid May, we began our search for a new turtle who would become our next ambassador for the sea turtle species. With the transfer of Finn, a one flippered juvenile loggerhead to the Gumbo Limbo Science Center last month, we became aware of a possibility of adopting one of their three 1 lb. juvenile loggerhead’s (oddly named “Blue”, “Yellow”, and “Red”) who were participating in a head start program along with ongoing research at Florida Atlantic University there. We soon acquired “Yellow”, one of these three feisty loggerhead yearlings as our new educational turtle.
After determining “Yellow” was not a proper name for this charismatic turtle, staff participated in a naming contest and fittingly decided on “Zippy” for a new name. “Zippy” will be with us until he reaches 42 cm in shell length size. Until then he will educate school children here in the Keys about sea turtles and what they can do to preserve their species. “Zippy” is also part of Dr. Jeanette Wyneken’s sex ratio study of hatchlings which is providing us with crucial information about the growth rate of hatchlings and gender determination in sea turtle nests. Like alligator hatchlings, gender is dependent upon the temperature at which the eggs are laid in so it has been found that males are hatched in cooler temperatures found at the bottom of the nest where females are hatched at the warmer temperatures found near the top of the nest. Because of this, it has been found that “Zippy” is in fact a little boy. We know that “Zippy” will represent his species well during his time with us and we are excited to have such a enthusiastic ambassador who will spark interest in many young people’s eyes.
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