We currently estimate the age of our celebrity sea turtle to be between 90 and 95 years old.

She has been a resident at the New England Aquarium since 1970 and is one of three turtles that we have in the Giant Ocean Tank today, along with loggerheads Retread and Carolina.

Myrtle is a green sea turtle with an interesting story. Not only is she our most famous resident, but she’s also unique because we have been able to track her age closely because she has been in human care for so many years. She was recently featured in a story about longevity on WCVB Channel 5’s show Chronicle and on NBC10 Boston’s show Uniquely Boston.

a visitor picture from 1973 with Myrtle through the glass
A visitor's picture of Myrtle from the 1970s

Turtles, being reptiles, tend to all look the same once they’re an adult. That means that it’s difficult for aquarists and vet staff to determine how long a turtle has been an adult. It could be a newly matured adult or it could have reached maturity 10 years ago. That’s especially true with sea turtles, as it can take sea turtles anywhere between 10 and 50 years to fully mature, depending on the species. (Did you see Myrtle’s #10yearchallenge on social?)

Myrtle has been photographed by National Geographic photographer and Aquarium Board member Brian Skerry ...

So with Myrtle, the Aquarium has a unique opportunity to observe how an aging sea turtle behaves. What’s also exciting about Myrtle is that at the ripe age of 90-plus years, she’s still quite healthy. We’re hoping that means she will be with us at the New England Aquarium for many years to come, to the delight of our visitors but also to inform scientists!

Myrtle the green sea turtle
... and photo documentarian Esther Horvath during her project on sea turtles.

Researchers are not 100 percent sure how long sea turtles live in the wild. Current estimates hover around the one century mark, but scientists have never been able to record the life of a sea turtle in the wild from the day it was born to the day it died. That means Myrtle could show researchers about how long sea turtles really do live!

The Queen

Can’t Get Enough of Myrtle?

Myrtle is a regular here on our blogs. Click around to learn even more about the undisputed queen of the Giant Ocean Tank.