Thanksgiving Is the Time
to Celebrate ... Retread
Thanksgiving is turkey, mashed potato, stuffing, family and friends, football, and … Retread.
One of the New England Aquarium’s two loggerhead sea turtles (Carolina is the other), Retread was found on a Brewster beach on Thanksgiving Day 1987.
Retread is just one of the thousands of sea turtles the Aquarium has helped rehabilitate over the years. This fall, more than 100 hypothermic sea turtles have already stranded on Cape Cod beaches. Green, loggerhead, and Kemp’s ridley turtles, suffering from low body temperatures and other ailments, have been taken to the Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy to be treated and rehabilitated. The goal is always to return the threatened and endangered animals to the ocean.
However, not all rescued turtles can be safely returned to the wild.
That was the case with Retread, who weighed only 31 pounds when found. She appeared dead for several days after being rescued, her flippers and rear shell appeared to have suffered frostbite, and her eyes were cloudy. She was badly underweight and believed to be blind. For most of her first year in rehabilitation, Retread’s weight fluctuated greatly. She needed assistance eating and required antibiotics.
But with diligent care from the Aquarium’s turtle hospital team, her appetite steadily increased and her shell healed. However, it became apparent her eyesight had been permanently damaged.
With the approval of state and federal officials, it was decided that Retread would have to stay in captivity in order to survive. Since then, with a hand-fed diet and world-class veterinary care, she has thrived and now weighs about 200 pounds.
She is fed squid, capelin, mackerel, and shrimp, with her favorite being a squid taco (squid body stuffed with capelin).
A favorite among the divers, Retread is alerted to feeding time when a diver rattles a PVC pipe filled with metal. Then she’s hand-fed using a stick because a sea turtle’s beak is powerful.
Retread, who negotiates her way around her Giant Ocean Tank home by feeling her way with her flippers, enjoys solitary naps in a dark area out of view from the public. She has her very own green bucket crafted by the GOT team for hiding her head in if she so desires.
Look for Retread on your next visit to the Aquarium. She is the loggerhead sea turtle with a small pockmark behind her front left flipper. The other loggerhead is Carolina. These two turtles are much smaller than Myrtle, a green sea turtle and the Queen of the GOT.