Scottsdale, AZ (May 23, 2019) – What happens when at sea turtle shows up at a party?  It becomes a shell-a-bration!  Join the Shellabration happening at OdySea Aquarium the entire month of June to honor the beloved—and endangered—sea turtle. OdySea Aquarium’s Shellabration event features sea turtle and ocean conservation programs, sea turtle feeds, limited-time behind-the-scenes sea turtle tours and kid-friendly hands-on activities.  The event is also a great way for visitors to get to know OdySea’s ‘Shell-tacular Seven’; seven rescued sea turtles that each have a unique back story.  Visitors and fans of OdySea will also get to vote on a new name for one of these majestic sea creatures during the festivities. It’s loggerhead-sized fun for the entire family only at Shellabration at OdySea Aquarium.
“World Sea Turtle Day is June 16, but we didn’t want to limit our education and celebration of sea turtles to just one day,” said Alyssa Daily, an OdySea Aquarium sea turtle care specialist and member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ sea turtle steering committee. “With nearly all species of sea turtles endangered, OdySea Aquarium felt strongly that we could really help raise awareness for all through a month-long event like Shellabration, and by highlighting our own seven sea turtles who call OdySea their home.  You don’t need to be living on the coast to become a sea turtle fan and make an impact on saving sea turtles from extinction!  OdySea Aquarium can show you how!”
Six of the seven species of sea turtle are classified as endangered. This means these animals are all protected by the Endangered Species Act as well as protected by the federal government and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. When sea turtles are stranded or require rescue, they are picked up by a rescue center and rehabilitated. Once they are stable and healed, these animals are evaluated by the federal government. Most are released; however, some are deemed non-releasable due to the extent of their injuries. These animals are then relocated to aquariums around the nation, so they can be cared for, and so that rescue facilities can continue to take in animals in need.
To learn more about OdySea’s sea turtles, four green sea turtles and three loggerheads, the Aquarium is offering visitors special access to their habitats as well as to their care-givers.  There will be two different sea turtle specialty tours offered during Shellabration to include a Behind-the-Scenes tour (offered four times a day; 11 a.m., Noon, 3 and 4 p.m.) and a Sea Turtle Training Session (once daily at 1:30 p.m.). Each tour has limited spaces for guests age six and older.  Each 30-minute tour is $9.95 per guest.
Unique hands-on activities for kids during Shellabration include a special build-your-own block sea turtle opportunity, a turtle shell coloring and decorating station, and sea turtle artifacts children can touch.
Weekends in June will feature even more turtle opportunities when Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary visits OdySea with giant tortoises.  Experts from PHS will give talks on the differences and similarities between tortoises and sea turtles and allow visitors to get up-close to these magnificent tortoises.
To kick-off Shellabration, OdySea Aquarium will host an online vote for a new name for one of their endearing sea turtles currently known as “40.”  This loveable 140-pound loggerhead received her name from her rescue facility, the Virginia Aquarium, because she was the 40th animal to be brought into their care. The turtle was cold stunned and stranded herself on the coast. “Cold stunning” refers to the hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to prolonged cold-water temperatures. Initial symptoms include a decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and possibly death. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles and depend on external sources of heat to determine their body temperature. Therefore, in cold water they do not have the ability to warm themselves and must instead migrate to warmer waters or they will strand themselves because of their inability to move well in the water.  Luckily, 40 rebounded, and after a lengthy recovery period, she moved to Arizona to make OdySea Aquarium her new home. Animal care specialists at OdySea feel the Shellabration event is the perfect time to give 40, who is a big fan of taking naps in the corner of her exhibit, a more fitting name. Voting will take place at OdySea Aquarium’s Face Book page from June 3 – 9 and the new name will be announced June 10.
 
Shellabration at OdySea Aquarium runs for the entire month of June.  Sea turtle specialty tours are $9.95 per person, have limited space and are only being offered in June.  Tickets for the tours can be purchased online as well as at the Discovery Desk inside the Aquarium. All other programming for Shellabration is included in admission to the Aquarium.  To purchase admission tickets, visit odyseaaquarium.com.
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About OdySea Aquarium
OdySea Aquarium, located in Scottsdale, was recently voted Kids Best Indoor Entertainment.  This multi-level, state-of-the-art facility holds more than 2 million gallons of water and is the largest aquarium in Arizona. OdySea Aquarium offers an educational, interactive and entertaining experience for guests of all ages by combining theme-park style amusement with highly engaging presentations of aquatic life. OdySea Aquarium features more than 65 exhibits, 370 species, the world’s only Russian Sturgeon touch exhibit as well as two Stingray touch exhibits and a tide touch pool! OdySea is also home to Voyager, where guests take their seats in a stadium-seating style theatre with 46 ft. viewing windows for the “world’s only revolving aquarium experience.  Additional interactive activities include SeaTREK® underwater walking, a charismatic “Penguin Interaction Program”, “Shark Behind the Scenes” tours, walk-about “Animal Ambassadors”, and Question & Answer sessions with the Animal Care specialists.  It is located at 9500 E. Via de Ventura in Scottsdale, AZ 85256, in the OdySea in the Desert entertainment destination. OdySea Aquarium is open 365 days a year beginning at 9 a.m. Closing time varies; check website for up-to-date information. Admission tickets are available online and at the onsite box office.  For more information about the OdySea Aquarium, call 480-291-8000 or visit www.odyseaaquarium.com.
MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: There are several opportunities for reporters to get behind-the-scenes with the sea turtles and their animal care staff at OdySea Aquarium.  All seven of the Aquarium’s sea turtles have suffered from significant injuries or health issues that have brought them into human care.  Story ideas include:
  • See how OdySea Aquarium’s sea turtles voluntarily swim into a submerged “stretcher,” remain calm as they are lifted out of the water for regular vet/health check-ups
  • Experience an enrichment session with the sea turtles; see what toys and activities each sea turtle loves to receive or interact with… learn why enrichment is a big part of the care and attention they receive at OdySea Aquarium
  • What are the significant differences (physically and their personalities) between the male and female sea turtles at OdySea Aquarium
  • Learn the about the different personalities (likes/dislikes) of the seven sea turtles at OdySea Aquarium; which one are you most like?
Photo Credit: OdySea Aquarium

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