Baby loggerhead sea turtle added to family of animal ambassadors

Sea turtle sex study underscores importance of Conservancy research

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has announced the name for a new baby loggerhead sea turtle, which now has a starring role in the Dalton Discovery Center.

The loggerhead, named NIN, weighed in at 456 grams (16.4 ounces) and measured 23 centimeters across and 22 centimeters in width at a ceremony on Thursday, June 14. NIN is an animal ambassador at the Conservancy’s Nature Center, where visitors will have a unique opportunity to observe the sea turtle in his habitat while learning about the species until he is large enough to be released into the wild.

“Our animal ambassadors serve an important role in helping educate visitors about both native and non-native species living in Southwest Florida,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “Loggerhead sea turtles are a threatened species in Florida, and the Conservancy is committed to monitoring and protecting the turtles nesting on our local beaches.”

‘Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes’

NIN is part of a Sea Turtle Sex Determination Study by Florida Atlantic University. Nests were incubated at various temperatures. This specific turtle was incubated at low temperature and low humidity to test how these variables impact the sex of the turtles. Tests confirmed NIN is a male.

Since the sea turtle program’s inception in 1982, the Conservancy has documented more than 284,000 loggerhead hatchlings from Keewaydin Island reaching waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and another 78,000 from Naples City Beach.

“Interestingly, the vast majority of hatchlings on Keewaydin beaches are male in an otherwise female-dominated South Florida population,” said Dr. Jeff Schmid, Conservancy of Southwest Florida science research manager. “Our beaches are that much more important because the males that are produced help maintain the overall population.”

As the first known male sea turtle ambassador that the Conservancy has welcomed, NIN serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining beaches and protecting nests to preserve gender balance.

A higher nest temperature results in more females while lower temperature causes a shift toward males, giving rise to the saying “hot chicks and cool dudes.”

NIN’s Name

NIN is a unique name for the Conservancy’s loggerhead and carries a special story. A guest at the Conservancy’s 2018 Magic Under the Mangroves gala and auction purchased the sea turtle’s naming rights. The winning bidder, Barbara Chur, came to Magic Under the Mangroves hoping to win the naming rights and support the Conservancy sea turtle research. Chur’s daughter and eight of her friends visited Naples this winter.

L to R: Barry Kelleher, Conservancy President Rob Moher, Ruth Bawden, Barbara Chur

“When I won, I wanted a name that would represent the wonderful time the nine women had while visiting. We are selected the name NIN to represent Nine in Naples, Chur said. “We also encourage everyone to come to the Conservancy to learn about the wonderful sea turtle work that is happening here and to meet NIN.”