Friday, June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day and OdySea Aquarium has reason to shell-a-brate! Two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the rarest and world’s most endangered species of sea turtle, have found a new home at OdySea Aquarium. To commemorate their arrival to the Grand Canyon State, the two non-releasable, male turtles were named after two prominent Arizona lakes, Theodore (Roosevelt) and Powell, but are affectionately referred to as “Teddy” and “Pow Pow” by their OdySea Aquarium Animal Care team.
Meet OdySea’s newest arrivals
These 43-year-old adult turtles have adjusted well to their forever home at OdySea Aquarium. Guests can visit them in the diverse Deep Ocean exhibit alongside multiple species of sharks and stingrays, as well as a variety of fish.
“World Sea Turtle Day is a momentous occasion, and OdySea Aquarium is proud to introduce Theodore and Powell,” says Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Dave Peranteau. “Being the most endangered sea turtle species globally, their presence at OdySea Aquarium is a testament to our dedication to conservation and education. Teddy and Pow Pow inspire us all to protect and preserve our oceans, ensuring a brighter future for all sea turtle species.”
The Kemp’s ridley’s came to OdySea Aquarium following a quarantine period at SeaWorld Orlando. Prior to their time in Central Florida, Teddy and Pow Pow were raised at the Cayman Turtle Centre on Grand Cayman Island as part of a breeding program that began in 1980 to bolster the numbers of wild Kemp’s ridleys. At the time, the species’ population was at dangerous risk of extinction due to hunting and unintentional catching in shrimp trawl fisheries.
Learn about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles
While the species remains the most critically endangered sea turtle, the project concluded as the Kemp’s ridley population rebounded to less dire numbers because of international conservation efforts. Eight males and two females that began the program as yearlings remained and were recently sent to SeaWorld Orlando before finding new homes at several zoos and aquariums across the U.S.
Teddy and Pow Pow, weighing approximately 70 pounds each, were flown to Scottsdale by private plane from Florida thanks to the generosity of an organization called Turtles Fly Too. The pilots donated their time, aircraft, fuel and expertise to the cause, ensuring these precious animals arrived in Arizona safely. The non-profit also flies hundreds of cold-stunned turtles each year from the northeast to be released back into the wild after being rehabilitated.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the only true North American species of sea turtles and are primarily found in the coastal waters and bays of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Kemp’s ridleys are currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, with conservation efforts continuously attempting to rebuild their population. Current roadblocks to their survival include human interference and activity including habitat destruction, climate change, and oil spills.
See the OdySea growing family
Thanks to the wonderful addition of Teddy and Pow Pow, OdySea Aquarium now boasts a total of eight sea turtles. Among them are three female loggerhead sea turtles who reside in the Voyager exhibit: Ripley, Boise, and Charlie. Additionally, the Voyager exhibit is home to two green sea turtles, Erika and Greta, while Valor, a male, can be found in the Great Barrier Reef (tunnel) exhibit.
The presence of Teddy and Pow Pow adds further excitement to OdySea Aquarium, offering visitors the opportunity to see multiple sea turtle species up close while learning more about these majestic animals. Make plans to visit all of OdySea Aquarium’s sea turtles soon! To purchase admission tickets, visit odyseaaquarium.com.