After a recent decline in health, Nimbus, the 13-year-old leucistic loggerhead sea turtle at North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, was humanely euthanized Wednesday evening.
Nimbus went into emergency surgery that afternoon at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During surgery, severe stomach disease was confirmed. This diagnosis in addition to concerns with his other internal organ function and additional health issues, prompted a discussion about quality of life, aquarium officials said Friday. After five hours of in-depth surgery, and a review of Nimbus’ medical history, the decision was made to move forward with euthanasia.
“Nimbus was loved by our staff, volunteers, and guests. This was not an easy decision, and you could see it on the faces and hear it in each person’s voice when we discussed the situation,” Aquarium Director Clint Taylor said. “Based on the severity of the internal issue, it was extremely important for us to look at his overall health and quality of life.”
Nimbus was found as a hatchling in August 2010 by N.C. Sea Turtle Project volunteers during a nest excavation on Pine Knoll Shores. The Sea Turtle Project watches over sea turtle nests and nesting sea turtles on the state’s beaches and is overseen by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The aquarium’s veterinary and animal care team cared for the turtle born with mouth and nasal deformities and vision problems associated with leucism, a rare genetic alteration found in animals, similar to albinism, which caused the turtle’s unique coloration.
“Nimbus quickly became one of our guests’ favorite animals to visit. Many people remember when the turtle came to the Aquarium as a hatchling and watched him grow and thrive,” Taylor said.
Nimbus, meaning a radiant light or shining cloud, was the name chosen during a public naming contest where over 500 names were submitted.
The aquarium team is currently developing a memorial opportunity for guests and staff in honor of Nimbus.