Feedings: Loggerhead feeding time

Be there for the loggerhead's breakfast! Plan a visit to the Aquarium, buy your tickets online

Mealtime for the loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) is one of the most exciting feedings in the whole tank. When they're hungry, they can put down a lot of squid, capelin, mackerel and shrimp! And visitors get front row seats for the whole feast. The feeding happens every other morning at the bottom of the Giant Ocean Tank overlooking the colorful, oversized coral sculptures in the Curious George Discovery Corner. (There are some steps at these windows that make it easy for the smallest visitors to get a good look.) 

Our loggerhead sea turtles—Retread and Carolina—in place for their feedings

The feeding starts when a diver sinks down to the sandy landing and rattles a PVC pipe filled with bits of metal. It clanks and clatters enough so that it's audible all around the tank. That's the queue for Retread and Carolina to head down to their feeding station.

Sean rattles the shaker indicating it's mealtime for the loggerheads
Retread is blind (both our loggerhead turtles are rescues that would not be able to survive in the wild), so the audible queue lets her know it's time to eat. Sometimes the divers have to guide her into position to be fed.

Coming in for a landing
Besides the shaker, the divers also carry a yellow feeding stick. The fish is thread onto the stick and each turtle is offered a bite. Chomp!—the diver pulls stick out of the turtle's mouth just before their jaws close on a tasty morsel. Because the loggerhead's jaws are so powerful, the stick ensure the diver's fingers won't get nipped by accident. Each turtle can put down several fish in a single feeding!

The tools of the trade: Feeding stick and pvc shaker

Sean's hand is safely out of reach of that powerful beak!

The feeding also tends to draw a crowd inside the tank, too. You'll see plenty of porkfish, angelfish and other smaller fish grubbing for scraps that the turtles miss.

The loggerhead feeding draws a crowd—both outside the tank and inside!

Loggerheads eat mostly seafood, as opposed to green sea turtles that eat a considerable amount of plant matter. Loggerhead sea turtles are currently endangered. In fact, all sea turtles in the wild face considerable threats including accidental bycatch in fishing gear, boat activities such as dredging the ocean floor and human intrusion on their nesting beaches.

But you can help! Make a difference by choosing ocean-friendly seafood options that aren't caught in ways that threaten loggerhead sea turtles.

Back to bed

After a tasty meal, the turtles might settle in for a nap—and that's a blog post for another day! In the meantime, come visit the turtles in the Giant Ocean Tank.


New to the reef: Orange filefish

The Giant Ocean Tank is teeming with hundreds of fish, so you might not know to look for some newcomers. But once we introduce the orange filefish, you'll find they're pretty easy to pick out of the crowd.

It's not hard to tell why these fish are called orange filefish!

The orange filefish (Aluterus schoepfii) can grow to be about a foot long, but they have a very compressed, pancake-like body shape. You can see just how thin they are when they turn toward you. Their coloration varies from olive gray to rich orange-yellow or even white on the dorsal side with some mottling. Irregular blotches are also normal.

An interesting characteristic about this species is that they often swim with their head pointing downward. It's believed they're trying to camouflage with seagrasses while hiding from predators and prey alike. They also have incredibly small mouths but formidable teeth with triangular incisors. Think of it like a cookie cutter meets a melon-baller.

See if you can notice any of these characteristics when observing the orange filefish in this video:

This species is not usually eaten by people. Their conservation status is unknown. But they can often be found in aquariums. We have not exhibited this species for some time now, so it's exciting to see these fish against the backdrop of the newly-renovated reef. We haven't had them on exhibit for 10 or 12 years! Come visit the Giant Ocean Tank and see if you can spot these new neighbors on the reef!

There are many different kinds of filefish, many of them living in the Giant Ocean Tank right now. Here are just a few from the blogs:


Feeding: Video of Parrotfish Grazing

In this previous post, we introduce a crafty way to feed our parrotfish and help them maintain healthy teeth. They scrape away at a block of plaster of Paris in pursuit of some tasty peas. In the process, they're helping to file down their fused front teeth. It is similar to their behavior in the wild, where they graze on algae covering coral rock.

Well, as promised we're sharing the diver's perspective of that feeding:

There's lots more to learn more about feedings in the Giant Ocean Tank. Take an e-stroll through the blogs and get a hint at all that's done every day to keep these animals happy, healthy and sated. Here are a couple links to get you started: