- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (AP) - Ike Jr., a tiny loggerhead sea turtle that’s just 6 weeks old, is the newest addition to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, the facility announced recently.

Ike hatched Sept. 21 on nearby Ossabaw Island, where Department of Natural Resources staffers discovered him, authorities said.

The Marine Science Center designates one such hatchling at a time as its “Marine Debris Ambassador,” The Savannah Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/1Nx1nQF).

Caretakers raise the turtle in the aquarium, using it to remind visitors that beach litter has consequences for marine life.

Turtles, in particular, have been known to mistake plastic bags for prey items like jellyfish, sometimes with deadly outcomes.

Ike Jr.’s predecessor was a hatchling also named Ike, who was released about a year ago.

A “Like Ike” campaign educates through stickers and recycle bins on Tybee Island.

“The city of Tybee Island is putting serious effort into a litter program, and we look forward to teaming up with other community groups, residents and visitors to keep Tybee tidy,” said Cody Shelley, communications director at the science center.

During his year at the center, we expect this little guy to grow to about the size of a dinner plate,” Shelley said. “He’ll graduate from a quarantine tank to our Creature Feature display, then end up in our 800-gallon sea turtle tank.”

The 2015 turtle nesting season was a record high on the Georgia coast with more than 2,300 nests and nearly a quarter million eggs recorded, officials said. Tybee Island accounted for just 10 of those nests, an average season for the most developed of Georgia’s barrier islands.

Ike has been quarantined since he first arrived at the science center, with only guests on behind-the-scenes tours getting a glimpse of him. Those guests included R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe and friends, the Savannah newspaper reported.

“They were really pumped to meet him,” said curator Chantal Audran.

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Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com

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