The loggerhead sea turtle taken in by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Photo courtesy the aquarium

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography has provided a home for an endangered sea turtle rescued near a power plant in New Jersey.

The juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, weighing approximately 97 pounds, arrived Wednesday from the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

“All sea turtles in U.S. waters are protected by the Endangered Species Act due to significant threats such as entanglement in fishing gear, accidental ingestion of plastic and other marine debris, boat strikes, and loss of essential nesting habitat,” said Debbie Zmarzly, interim director of the Birch Aquarium.

“This turtle is an important ambassador for ocean conservation. We hope its story will help compel more than 400,000 people who visit Birch Aquarium each year to protect the health of our oceans and the animals that call it home.”

Originally discovered injured in a New Jersey power plant’s cooling canal, the turtle was initially sent to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ, for  care. After three weeks, the South Carolina Aquarium accepted the turtle and provided treatment and further evaluation.

Due to what are likely congenital defects, veterinary experts in South Carolina determined 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 the Birch Aquarium.

The turtle is currently behind the scenes at the aquarium, undergoing routine health and husbandry assessments in preparation for its move to its new habitat in the Hall of Fishes. By mid-January 2015, visitors to the aquarium should be able to see the turtle in its new home.

“This turtle has already been through so much in its short life,” said Jenn Nero Moffatt, director of husbandry at the aquarium.. “We look forward to giving it a comfortable and happy home and sharing the story of not only this turtle, but all sea turtles, with San Diego’s residents and visitors.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.