Four sea turtle hatchlings were welcomed to their exhibit this morning at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center as part of a longstanding study.
The turtles — named Matthew “Pathfinder” Maury, Vagn Ekman, Sir John Murray and Sylvia Earle — will be on display for the next year to 18 months and then returned to the ocean, according to the aquarium. The hatchlings were named after influential explorers and oceanographers, it said in a release.
Each year, four loggerhead hatchlings are selected from a nest at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge through a partnership between the Virginia Aquarium and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and brought to the aquarium for study and public display. The annual program culminates with the turtles getting fitted with satellite transmitters and their departure to the ocean.
“Loggerhead sea turtles are among the most endangered species of sea turtle, and very little is known about their early years,” Rachel Metz, the aquarium’s director of live exhibits, said in the release. “Those years, often referred to as the Lost Years, are incredibly important to their development and growth. We are trying to understand not only where they go, but why they go there.”
Guests can visit the hatchlings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Sunday. More information on the hatchling program can be found here.