Hot Chicks & Cool Dudes: How a tiny turtle is teaching us about both

Baby loggerhead is ready for you to visit and name her

CREATED Mar 27, 2014

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 NAPLES, Fla. - Here's your chance to come face to face with a majestic creature of the sea up close and personal.

A baby turtle is the newest resident of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's nature center in Naples.

"This is an opportunity for the public to see a loggerhead sea turtle first hand," says Robert Moher, President and CEO of the The Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

"It's one of the few places you can do that in Florida," he adds.

Moher says you can do more than just visit the turtle at the nature center.

You can also help name her.

The conservancy is holding a naming contest on its website

The turtle came Naples after being part of an intriguing study at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Florida's east coast.

Researchers found strong evidence that the temperature of a turtle nest can play a role in determining gender.   

"We use the saying hot chicks, cool dudes," David Webb, Director of Education for The Conservancy, says with a laugh.

He says the research "means the hotter nests will produce females and cooler nests will produce male hatchlings."

Turns out, Southwest Florida's limited number of turtle nests are just the right temperature to make male babies.   

"So we might not have the amount of nesting they have on the east coast, but what little bit we have producing male to perpetuate the species," says Jeff Schmid, Research Manager for The Conservancy.  

 The baby female, which weighs about one pound now, will likely be released into the Gulf in about two years. 

She could grow to be as big as 400 pounds.

The conservancy staff says it could be 20 to 30 years before she builds a nest and lays her own eggs. 

In the meantime, she's got plenty of learning to do with The Conservancy.

"She doesn't really know how to dive yet," says Webb.