More from Myrtle the Turtle
SFC: Oftentimes we do have to put a Myrtle distracter in the water, if you really have to get something done. For example, we did shark exams this past summer and that’s a huge ordeal to pull out sharks, and you just can’t have her in the way. Then it becomes not funny, but a safety issue for both the divers and the sharks and Myrtle. She must love it, because she gets twice the food she’s supposed to be getting, and we have volunteers or interns just stationed at her platform and just literally feeding and feeding her. And as long as she’s being fed, that’s more interesting than the sharks, and the minute it stops, she looks over, wonders what’s going on and goes right at it. So no matter what the procedure is, she factors in. We always have to ask, “Okay, so what are we going to do with Myrtle?” The volunteer or intern should know how important that role is; the whole thing would fall apart if we didn’t have that person doing that job.
MRB: Over these 40 years, she’s seen generations of animals. I don’t now how you can quantify it. How many species are in the tank?
SFC: Right now, we’re somewhere around 125 species, and probably about 600 individuals. And that’s generally a good ballpark number for any given year, sometimes its going to be a little up or a little down.
MRB: There’s no way to even estimate how many animals have been in there during Myrtle’s 40 years in the tank…
SFC: No. It would take a lot of work actually…Because you’ve got big stuff that doesn’t turnover that often, like sharks and turtles, but then you’ve got the smaller fish where it’s just a constant turnover, like it would be in the ocean.
MRB: In terms of her interaction with some of the animals, do the sharks yield to Myrtle?
SFC: They yield to Myrtle. Pretty much everyone yields to Myrtle. We call her the Queen of the Giant Ocean Tank. They keep their distance. Myrtle is not the slightest bit intimidated. If squid is involved and she thinks she can get it, she’s going to take any risk imaginable. And like I said, even going as far as not just trying to get it before it got to the shark’s mouth, but ripping it right out of the shark’s mouth. For a big girl, she can be very fast. Very sneaky. One of our other challenges in making sure that we don’t overfeed her is that it’s not just about the food that she gets, it’s about feeding other animals and having her just outcompete them and outsmart them…or outsmart us. Like when I’m trying target–feed this animal that hasn’t eaten for several days, and this animal is just about to take it and VOOOM, just like that…aggghh, Myrtle!