STAR TURTLE: Every animal is fascinating in its own way, but consider the turtle. The shell-backed reptile has gained stardom in two ways: Both as an at-home pet for nature-loving elementary schoolers and as a protected and nearly mystical creature who sometimes lays its eggs on beaches and roams our oceans. Animals generally fall into one of those categories, but not both (and, yes, aquarium turtles and sea turtles are different, of course). This dual-nature lends the turtle a certain mystique, though few turtles boast the mystique of the loggerhead. The ocean beauty has been shown with fins moving in slo-mo in dozens of nature documentaries. Volunteers often guard and watch the endangered creatures when they come ashore to deposit eggs. And they're frequently the symbol for caring for our oceans and protecting our planet.
MONTEREY VISITOR: Fans of the loggerhead are in for a treat, at least for the next couple of years, should they make for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The institution is now home to a young loggerhead on loan from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. He's just four-and-a-half inches and isn't even a half pound, so if you picture those beach babies you've seen in documentaries, you're on the right track. He was a "late hatchling" that didn't make it down to the water with his nest mates, if you're curious about his beginnings. Aquarium officials say the turtle, who arrived in California just before Christmas, could be at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for up to the next two years.