I have been fortunate to travel extensively on this planet (although my list of places to still see keeps growing…). I try to make it a point to see natural sights, not just man made ones, along the way. There is always much to see and learn about, no matter where you go. Sometimes, though, we forget to look very close to where we call home.
Several years ago, in the south Florida area, my family and I found a gem of a place called the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida. If you are like me, and love sea turtles, this is a must-see place to visit.
I hope you are also like minded in thinking that education is the best path in helping to protect the future of sea turtles. Personally, I think this goes for most things in life, but my focus here is sea turtles.
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a place that is all about sea turtles.
They have a small but very informative education center full of beautiful aquariums and models. They also offer very informative educational tours where you can see many turtles up close. They house and re-habilitate many sick or injured sea turtles as well as hatchlings. Once they are well enough or old enough to be re-released in their natural habitat, that is where they go. They recently opened a much-needed state of the art sea turtle hospital.
Just as you enter the center, you will see a large cooler outside.
This is for anyone to drop in any hatchlings they may have found lost or misdirected from the beach, or frighteningly close to the road. One of the things they teach about is how lights along the beach can confuse small hatchlings. Instead of heading to the water, they head inland. There is some sand inside the cooler so they can be placed in a cool, comfortable and safe place. The volunteers and staff then take it from there.
This facility is possible through the generosity of many, most especially the Loggerhead Marina group.
This is also through the self-less service of many dedicated volunteers. A modest donation of $5 per person as you enter is suggested as you enter, but not required. Please give what you can.
They also have a beautiful gift shop—it is truly hard to walk out of there empty handed as they have something for everyone at every price point.
Be sure to take a walk…
If you are lucky enough to be visiting during roughly March through August, the Center offers sea turtle walks during the nesting season. The past year or so have been record years for sea turtle nests, so there is usually activity worth seeing and no matter how many times you may have seen this, it is always exciting when you spot something. It never gets old. Being able to see a turtle release is equally rewarding.
Outside the center, there is a picnic area, as well as the natural dunes and the beach. This is a wonderful place for all ages. And the town of Juno Beach has many wonderful places to eat too.
It is quite easy to make a very memorable day here.
My hope, and that of many at the center, is that visitors leave with a strong knowledge of how their own choices can affect the sea turtles and their future. It does not take much on our part to make a huge difference in theirs. That is why I strongly advocate for education and research.
The story of the Green Turtle and how their numbers are rebounding speaks volumes. Whether in the Bahamas or along the Treasure Coast of Florida, I have personally seen an incredible difference in my own turtle sightings in the last decade. The efforts of people involved in helping sea turtles are making a major difference, and places like the Loggerhead Marinelife Center are a large part of that.
Please make it a point to visit this amazing gem of a center the next time you visit the Juno Beach area—and if you call south Florida home, I hope you make a visit to the Center part of your regular routine—and be sure to take your cold weather guests—it will make for a very memorable day!