chapter  16
30 Pages

Sea Turtle Husbandry

References ............................................................................................................438

Sea turtle husbandry is the care and maintenance of sea turtles through scientific and judicious use of resources. Caring for turtles in captivity presents some problems, whether rearing them for research and conservation, public display (zoos and aquaria), or other commercial purposes. Sea turtles, in general, are sensitive to temperature variation; can be aggressive when crowded; are long-lived; and can reach great sizes, requiring large accommodations. Even if the sea turtles’ natural physical environment can be artificially duplicated in captivity, general biological information is still lacking. For instance, little is known about the wild pelagic (early) life stages of all species, including basic information such as diet and feeding, growth, activity levels, and natural survival, all of which are fundamental parameters if one is to maintain turtles in captivity from hatchlings. Despite the lack of basic biological knowledge on sea turtles, many facilities have reared sea turtles in captivity with varying degrees of success. Much of what is known was learned through trial and error over decades of work. Available information on specific rearing practices is limited. Even with missing biological information, there is no reason to believe that sea turtles cannot be successfully reared and maintained in captivity by simply following sound animal husbandry practices.