Myrtle the 550-pound turtle is among the first animals introduced to the Giant Ocean Tank as Aquarium divers begin the transfer of 2,000 animals to the newly renovated tank.
￼The New England Aquarium’s signature animal, Myrtle the turtle—a 550-pound green sea turtle—is back in her dazzling new home. Since last September, the Aquarium has undertaken a $17 million renovation of the Giant Ocean Tank and its surrounding spaces. The four-story, 200,000-gallon Caribbean coral reef exhibit does not officially open until July 1, but most of the construction is complete, and biologists require nearly a month to introduce the 2,000 animals of nearly 200 species to their new home. Among the first animals introduced is the nearly 90-year-old sea turtle who has long been called the queen of the Giant Ocean tank by Aquarium divers.
As you can see in the video, moving a quarter-ton reptile requires a little planning, some quiet time and heavy duty hoists. Early Tuesday morning, three Aquarium divers guided Myrtle through her temporary home in the penguin pool where she readily swam into a five-foot-by-four-foot plastic crate. The box was then lifted from the pool by an overhead mechanical hoist. After the water drained off, the turtle container was placed on the exhibit floor where the Aquarium’s two veterinarians and several biologists did a physical exam of Myrtle. She looked good and was then wheeled to an elevator by a pallet jack and brought to the top level of the Aquarium. Her crate was then linked to another ceiling hoist, which slid her sizeable mass out over the new coral reef. The box was slowly lowered into the water where two divers turned the box at an angle, and Myrtle swam out to inspect her new realm.
The reef has changed dramatically, with popping new colors, thousands of new corals and new swim paths. About half-way around on her first lap, Myrtle was greeted by an old acquaintance, a 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle named Retread. They hovered in the water and faced each other quietly, then Myrtle’s massive right front flipper reached out and tossed the smaller sea turtle aside. With that imperious and dominant gesture, Aquarium staff knew that the ancient sea turtle would be fine. Now all she needs to do is find the best nap location on the re-configured reef and train the divers to feed her on demand.
The spiral walkway around the Giant Ocean Tank is open to the public, and Aquarium staff will be adding about 50 to 100 fish per day as it steadily builds one of the most diverse and dense aquatic exhibits in the world over the next several weeks.
Here are some other videos about the Aquarium's transformation:
The very first animal moves to the newly renovated Giant Ocean Tank
Myrtle's transfer to her temporary exhibit last fall
Myrtle enjoying that temporary exhibit
Little blue penguins in their temporary home for the renovations
And the rest of the penguin colony on vacation (they'll be back by July 1!)
And look for Myrtle on the news!