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New Sea Turtle Bruno Arrives

A new Atlantic green sea turtle, named Bruno, recently arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. He’s about 23-years-old and came to Tacoma from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska. On Tuesday, Bruno received a routine check-up with the Zoo’s veterinary staff.

Bruno, like all animals new to the Zoo, must get a clean bill of health before joining the other animals in the Pacific Seas Aquarium.

The first item the veterinary staff checks is Bruno’s weight and length. He weighs in at 165 pounds and his carapace (shell) is 31 inches long. The average green sea turtle can weigh upwards of 300 pounds, so there’s still plenty of room for Bruno to grow!

Keepers measure a sea turtle
Veterinary staff and keepers measure the length of Bruno’s shell

Both the veterinarians and his keepers take every chance possible to make Bruno comfortable during the exam. They put eye drops in his eyes to keep them hydrated. And just like we love massages to help us relax, the team rubs Bruno’s carapace to help him relax too.

sea turtle gets eye drops
Bruno gets eye drops to keep his eyes hydrated while he’s out of the water

The veterinary staff takes x-rays and collects a blood sample to screen for infection and to make sure his organs are functioning normally. They even examine the inside of his mouth.

“He appears to be in good health,” said Dr. Karen Wolf, head veterinarian. “But we will wait until his blood work has been evaluated to complete his assessment.”

Veterinary staff checks sea turtle's mouth
Veterinary staff examines the inside of Bruno’s mouth

Once Bruno’s blood work comes back and he’s adjusted to his habitat behind-the-scenes, he will join our other two male sea turtles, Sunny and Azul, in the Baja Bay habitat of the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Visitors should be able to easily tell the difference between Bruno and the other sea turtles. As an Atlantic green sea turtle, Bruno is larger than Sunny and Azul, who are Eastern Pacific green sea turtles.

Together, Bruno, Sunny and Azul will serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, helping teach visitors about the challenges sea turtles face in the wild. All seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. They face many challenges including poaching for their meat, eggs, and shells, as well as being caught as bycatch in fishing gear or entangled in plastic. They also consume plastics that they mistake as food.

How you can help protect sea turtles in the wild: reduce usage of single-use plastics to keep our beaches and oceans clean, carry reusable water bottles and shopping bags, and reduce marine debris that may entangle or be accidentally eaten by sea turtles. Explore more on our plastic-free page.