More from Myrtle the Turtle

MRB: Now I don’t understand exactly why she likes a back rub, how she can feel it on her shell.

SFC: There are nerve endings right up to the tip of the carapace, which is what the back is called. And she just loves it. Sometimes I can pick up a shell and show it to her and she’ll follow me, because it’s one of those shells with the protrusions that she recognizes, and I’ll use that instead of my hand, and she just rocks back and forth. You can just see it in her face, like “Ooh,” loving it.

She’ll scratch her own back too: she gets under things, and she’ll do it herself. We tend to give her a better back scratch because we can get the whole shell; she’s just getting one little section. The other thing she likes too is when we do event dives sometimes at night, and whoever the people are who are renting the aquarium might request divers in the tank, and we usually have a lot of fun with that. She gets extra food, because we’ll take her around the tank, and we’ll have a head of lettuce and just break a piece off and just drop it in front of each window. So she’ll go to each window, right up to it, and people are like, “Whoooaa!”

She’s really cooperative when it comes to trying to offer a really unique experience to visitors. You can always count on Myrtle. We sometimes just take her for granted. I’ve been working with her for 16 years, and everyone here will tell you that Myrtle and I have this special bond. There’s an IMAX theatre with a little clip to promote the aquarium, and Myrtle is supposedly speaking and telling people about the aquarium, and it’s my voice — it’s me! The funny thing is, I actually went to a radio studio to record this, and they asked me, “Okay now, use a voice that’s almost happy, like [high – pitched, cutesy] ‘Hiiii, I’m Myrtle!’” And it just wasn’t working, it wasn’t working. And they were like, “How do you think she’d talk?” I said I think she’d be a little tough. I just don’t think she’s Disney. That’s just not her. She’s tough. And so I sort of talked like, “Hey, I’m Myrtle, I’ve been around this tank a few times…” And actually, they just said, “That’s it. That sounds like what she would sound like.” I have a rough sort of voice, it just sort of works. So I’m the voice of Myrtle at the IMAX theater.

MRB: Yeah, I never had the image of Myrtle as a shrinking violet.