Rare white sea turtle a bright spot
Nimbus, the little white loggerhead at the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, is living up to its name. Defined as a radiant light or shining cloud, Nimbus won out over hundreds of other name suggestions because it seemed fitting for the tiny sea turtle’s rare pale coloring.
But as the small reptile enchants visitors, it also serves as a beacon for heightened public interest in sea turtles. The five sea turtle species found in North Carolina waters are endangered or threatened.
Nimbus was brought to the Aquarium for care on Aug. 11, 2010, weak and smaller than the average loggerhead hatchling. it turned up when a hatched-out Pine Knoll Shores nest was excavated for baby turtles left behind. Hampered by a cleft palate, it had to be coaxed into eating. It lagged behind in growth, also, but appears to be catching up with other hatchlings of the same age.
A genetic deviation similar to albinism causes Nimbus’ unusual coloring. As the turtle has grown, its nearly white skin and shell have acquired a golden tinge in places. The carapace near the tail has turned slightly darker, though still remaining much lighter than normal coloring for a loggerhead.
Nimbus is on exhibit in the Tidal Waters Gallery. The turtle is something of a rock star at the Aquarium — especially with visiting school groups.
In addition to its advancement of the sea turtle conservation message, Nimbus could become a symbol of individuality. The Aquarium Gift Shop t-shirt for kids features Nimbus and the advice, “be different.”