Itch a hit: How a loo brush has stopped tickly Great Yarmouth sea turtles from destoying their tanks

14:37 07 May 2014

Curator Christine Pitcher gives one of the turtles a back scratch. 

Pictures: Jeremy Durkin/

Curator Christine Pitcher gives one of the turtles a back scratch. Pictures: Jeremy Durkin/

Jeremy Durkin

A pair of underwater residents at Great Yarmouth’s Sea Life Centre are scrubbing up well after staff introduced a new rubbing regime - in a bid to stop them destroying their tanks.

Green sea turtles Ernie and Noah were wrecking the displays in their watery home when they scratched their shells against the rocks whenever they got an itch.

So staff stepped in with an ingenious plan and now use a rough toilet brush to give the pair regular back scratches, which they both thoroughly enjoy.

Curator Christine Pitcher has been tasked with carrying out back-scratching duties.

She said: “Green Sea Turtles rub their shells against rocks and other hard surfaces when they get an itch, much like us humans.

“Some turtles rub their shells against rocks and other hard surfaces to dislodge unwanted passengers like barnacles and limpets.

“Even though there are no shellfish in their tank, this doesn’t seem to stop Ernie and Noah scraping against the artificial display, and no matter how hard wearing the display is, the turtles are so huge they have inevitably damaged part of it.”

But since the new rubbing regime was introduced the turtles’ tank has remained intact.

■ Turtle Fest returns to the Sea Life Centre this month, a global initiative which raises money for the Sea Life Marine Conservation Trust.

The event runs from May 12 - until June 1 and visitors can enjoy exclusive talks from turtle specialists, and take part in a quiz trail.


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