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A ringed sawback turtle sits on a log.


Turtles all have one thing in common: the shell. Whether it’s sea turtle Nickel’s streamlined version, or the domed fortress of Amazon Rising’s yellow-footed tortoise, the bony shell, firmly fused to ribs, pelvis and shoulders, has given turtles a sturdy mobile home for about 220 million years.

Nickel the green sea turtle, her long front fins swept wide, swims in Caribbean Reef at Shedd Aquarium.

A second chance for Nickel

Green sea turtle Nickel is more than the star of Caribbean Reef, she's also one of Shedd's rescues! In 1998, Nickel was injured in a boat accident, which affected her buoyancy. After five years at a rehabilitation center in Clearwater, Florida, Nickel came to Shedd, the first rescued and rehabilitated animal in Caribbean Reef.

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“I’m always trying to explore different places to scratch her or rub her to see how she reacts. I noticed that when I massaged, or tickled, her back feet, she clamped them around my hand. That told me she liked it, so I just kept doing it.”

Michelle Satler, senior aquarist

By studying the natural microbiome of western pond turtles, Shedd is working with partners to boost efforts to restore the species to the Pacific Northwest.

Red-Headed Side Neck Turtle

Fly River Turtle

Mata Mata Turtle

Map turtle