The History of Harold the Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Harold hatched during the late summer of 1995 on Pine Island, a tiny island near Wassaw Island, Georgia. The nest was laid on June 18, 1995 by a turtle nicknamed "Zig-Zag,” who had distinctive crawl pattern. The turtle patrol responsible for the area rarely saw the mother sea turtles on Pine Island, as the island was part of a daylight survey and not an all-night tagging patrol. However, the patrol believed “Zig-Zag” had something wrong with her right rear flipper because of her atypical “Z" crawl. 

Harold was rescued with 11 other amelanistic stragglers from the nest by turtle patrol member from the Caretta Research Project, who later joined Jekyll Island 4-H as an environmental education instructor. All 12 stragglers were very cream-colored and had blue-gray eyes. Instead of being released into the wild, the stragglers were brought to the Savannah Science Museum.  Two hatchlings were given to the Jekyll Island 4-H Center to be used as their first sea turtle ambassadors for their Georgia 4-H environmental education and summer camp programs.

Jekyll 4-H staff selected the names for the hatchlings from a 1971 dark comedy, Harold and Maude. Maude, unfortunately, did not survive, but Harold stayed healthy and hungry.  During his stay at Jekyll 4-H, a large sea turtle tank was purchased and installed as Harold continued to grow. After outgrowing her tank on Jekyll, Harold moved to Washington D.C.’s National Aquarium, located in basement of the Hoover Building, on April 16, 1999. Once she outgrew her exhibit space there, Harold moved to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 30, 2003. After she started eating the fabricated coral in her exhibit space, Harold moved again, this time to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. She made the move on November 11, 2004 and has been there ever since.

Harold can be found exhibit at Shark Reef exhibit at the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium.

This account was gathered by the Jekyll Island 4-H Center in collaboration with the Caretta Research Project, GA DNR, Baltimore Aquarium and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.


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