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Move over Turducken, Rescued Sea Turtle Enjoys Gel-key for Thanksgiving

  • Wednesday November 24th 2021
  • thanksgiving, green sea turtle, holiday, sea turtle, feast, feeding, marine biologists

Thanksgiving Feast

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium’s rescued green sea turtle, Benson, can’t return home for Thanksgiving, so Wayne State University helped bring a ‘turkey’ feast to him!

Wayne State University creates special turkey mold for rescued turtle to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium’s rescued green sea turtle, Benson, can’t return home for Thanksgiving, so Wayne State University helped bring a ‘turkey’ feast to him!

SEA LIFE reached out to the Engineering Department at Wayne State University to see if they could help create a 3D mold of a turkey that the aquarium’s animal care team could stuff with turtle food to celebrate the holiday and Robert Suchyta, a senior engineering student, was happy to take on the project.

Suchyta created a mold of a life-size turkey with the 3D modeling software and printing machines at the university’s state of the art STEM Innovation Learning Center. The special mold took four days to print.

“Robert is one of our most talented senior engineering students and Student Assistant for our Intro to Engineering Design class and has extensive experience with 3D printing” said Marcis Jansons, Associate Professor & Director of Early Engineering Programs. “He was the ideal candidate to create this unique mold and very excited to help feed a rescued sea turtle.”

Once the turkey mold finished 3D-printing, SEA LIFE’s marine biologists filled it with a special gel made with algae, fish and krill protein. Then, they froze it, producing a turkey-shaped ice block which was carefully lowered by a diver into the 120,000 gallon Tropical Ocean Habitat where Benson lives.

“We’re so thankful to be in a position to provide a forever home to Benson and give him this Thanksgiving feast – it’s a great enrichment activity for him to pick at the turkey mold, which simulates natural foraging behavior” said Asher Berg, curator at SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium. “We’re also thankful for the incredible engineering team at Wayne State University who helped make this happen for Benson."

Benson is a rescued juvenile green sea turtle from the Florida coast who was hit by a boat and suffered severe damage to his shell and spine. Due to his injuries, he is not able to regulate his buoyancy and requires constant care for simple behaviors like foraging for food and sleeping.

Guests can see Benson at SEA LIFE Aquarium while walking through Michigan’s only underwater ocean tunnel. The exhibit also features sharks, stingrays and thousands of tropical fish.

Turkey Mold

About SEA LIFE Michigan

SEA LIFE Michigan is a 26,000-square-foot aquarium in Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. As the 7th SEA LIFE location in the United States, and the 42nd in the world, SEA LIFE Michigan features engaging, educational and one-of-a-kind experiences that bring guests nose-to-nose with more than 2,000 amazing creatures, including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, rescued green sea turtles and much, much more. SEA LIFE provides a glimpse of the diversity of marine life while also playing an active role in animal and environmental conservation. Visitors will see strong evidence of SEA LIFE’s Breed, Rescue and Protect activities around the world, including new projects developed locally. For more information, visit


About Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment. As Europe's number one and the world's second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin operates 137 attractions, 22 hotels and 6 holiday villages in 24 countries across 4 continents. Merlin’s purpose is to deliver memorable experiences to its millions of guests around the world, through its iconic brands and multiple attraction formats, and the commitment and passion of its employees. 

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