Giant Ocean Tank
As a green sea turtle and the New England Aquarium’s largest animal, Myrtle eats a lot of vegetable matter.
Out in the wild that would be seagrass and algae. But here on Central Wharf, we offer her plant matter that is more readily available, with the same nutritional content.
Our team accomplishes that by offering her a variety of vegetables throughout the day. In the ocean, green sea turtles graze often, spreading out their foraging over the entire day. We recreate that in the Giant Ocean Tank by dividing Myrtle’s meals into at least four different feedings so she too has the ability to graze over several hours.
Most commonly we offer romaine lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. We have also experimented with other options as well to be sure we are giving Myrtle a variety of options and discovering her preferences. She’s tried bell peppers, apples, bok choy, swish chard, kale, radishes, and leeks.
Through all of this, we still believe that nothing tops lettuce and Brussels sprouts as her favorites. Over the course of the year, Myrtle’s preferences do vary, but these choices can generally be relied upon.
Typically in the summer, the Aquarium participates in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and receives locally grown produce when it is in-season. Myrtle is the “largest” advocate of living blue here at the Aquarium, so we want her to eat locally as much as possible to minimize the carbon footprint of her diet.
Myrtle also gets a bit of protein in her diet. In the ocean, green sea turtles ingest the occasional mollusk and crustacean while foraging in the seagrass. So, Myrtle needs some protein to round out her nutrient needs.
We feed Myrtle a mix of squid, fish, clams, and a few other food items to ensure she is receiving a well-balanced diet. Squid is also a great way to hide her calcium and multi-vitamins, so we are sure she has all the necessary micro-nutrients she needs to compliment her calorie intake.
See more photos of Myrtle being fed
The photographs for this blog were taken by Jake Stout, who was a Boston Sea Rovers intern at the New England Aquarium. Read other blogs by Jake and view more of his amazing photos here, here and here.
More on Myrtle
As Myrtle the green sea turtle is respectfully known as the Queen of the Giant Ocean Tank and is the Aquarium’s largest and most senior marine animal in residence (she has been at the Aquarium since soon after we opened in 1969 on Central Wharf), much has been written about her. Here is an assortment of articles about her.
Meet the queen herself on this behind-the-scenes tour.