It turns out that the sea turtles won’t be returning to the Outer Bay exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium just yet.
The back of the giant, almost two-million gallon tank is covered in tiny tiles. Almost impossible for the public to see, but the turtles discovered them a while ago.
I don’t know if they were just bored, or hungry, or acting out. It’s not unusual for sea turtles to nibble algae, so that may have been it as well, although great efforts are made to keep those walls very clean.
Or maybe the turtles had an artistic vision—a kind of abstract, negative mosaic—in mind. Maybe they were spelling out a message.
Regardless, tiles began disappearing from the wall. And appearing (seems they’re not digestible) in turtle poop.
So some poor schmuck got assigned the task of collecting and sorting through the turtle poop and counting the tiles they found.
The good news is, careful turtle poop sorting was successful: they recovered exactly the number of tiles that had gone missing.
This is dedicated science in action.
The bad news is, that until the aquarists come up with a way to keep the tile-tasting-turtles from tasting tiles, the turtles will remain behind the scenes, in off-exhibit tanks not visible to the public.
Too bad. The turtles are a big crowd-pleaser, and a personal favorite. It would be nice if there were somewhere else they could be exhibited safely, without the dangers of them tasting tiles, or the occasional Great White shark tasting them.
The people at the Aquarium are the best in the world at what they do. I’m sure they’re already working on it.
And I’m still holding out for a mola.