Sea turtle ice sculpture takes over Central Wharf plaza for First Night celebration and Winter School Vacation Week

View sculpture-making in progress: TODAY 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHAT: Sea turtles carved in ice will take shape on the New England Aquarium’s Central Wharf plaza as ice sculptor Don Chapelle of North Andover sets up the blocks of ice and creates the scene of sea turtle habitats. He will assemble a 16-foot-long, 6-foot-wide, 7-foot-tall loggerhead sea turtle in a scene of coral reefs, seaweed, and schools of fish on the Aquarium plaza. The piece will be formed out of 40 blocks of ice, each weighing 300 pounds, for a total of 12,000 pounds. Chapelle, who works out of a Lawrence studio, has been creating ice sculptures for the Aquarium for the last 13 years and has made renditions of penguins, fur seals, sea lion pups, and octopus.

WHY: This year’s sculpture is inspired by the Aquarium’s long-standing and highly-respected care for sea turtles. Since early November, the Aquarium team at the Animal Care Center in Quincy has been busy treating 195 hypothermic sea turtles, rescued from Cape Cod beaches and then brought to the Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital to be re-warmed and medically treated. Increasingly, the Aquarium’s marine animal rescue program has focused on sea turtle conservation by treating, rehabilitating and then releasing the turtles back into the ocean. Many of the turtles are highly endangered and face risks of boat and propeller strikes, fishing gear entanglements, and plastic ingestion due to human activity.

The species are usually juvenile Kemp’s ridley, the most endangered sea turtle in the world, along with green, and loggerhead turtles. Over the years, the Aquarium has treated and released thousands of Kemp’s ridley turtles in an effort to restore the population in the wild.

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., weather permitting

WHERE: New England Aquarium, Central Wharf Plaza

Pamela Bechtold Snyder, 617-973-5213;
Diana Brown McCloy, 978-697-9414;