September 25, 2020

Two 15 year old turtles hatched in Cayman Islands find their way to Omaha


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Two green sea turtles are the two newest residents of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The 15-year-olds had a roundabout journey to get here.

Ambrose and Merv were hatched in the Cayman Islands in 1997 and sent to the University of British Columbia in 2003 for a study of the endangered species. At the study’s completion last year, they were sent to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They couldn’t be released into the wild so they and two other sea turtles were housed at the university’s Aquatron laboratory while waiting for permanent homes.

The Omaha zoo expressed an interest, had the facilities and space for them, and was willing to get the proper permits and undertake the logistics of bringing them here, a zoo spokesperson said.

Their new home is the Shark Reef exhibit in Scott Aquarium, where they join loggerhead turtle Harold, who has been at the zoo since 2004.

Ambrose is almost 31 inches long, 26.38 inches wide and weighs 220 pounds. Merv is 26.38 inches long, 22.64 inches wide and weighs 176 pounds. Although they both have male sounding names, zoo officials think one of them is a female.

Green sea turtles, named for their green-colored skin, can reach lengths of 5 feet, weigh up to 700 pounds and live between 80 and 100 years. They are endangered because of hunting, accidentally getting caught in fishing nets and losing their habitat. There are 32 of them living in U.S. and Canadian zoos.

In the photograph the green sea turtles, Merv and Ambrose are with another turtle at Dalhousie University shortly before their trip to Omaha. Green sea turtles are an endangered species.

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