Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This past Monday, my twins and I went to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s one of our favorite places to visit! Their mission is to “increase public awareness of coastal and marine ecosystems through research, education, preservation and conservation.” They have huge saltwater tanks with sea turtles, fish, shark, anemone, coral, starfish, rays and much, much more. They also have a butterfly garden, tortoises, snakes, crabs, and other Florida wildlife.
Gumbo Limbo (named after the beautiful Gumbo Limbo tree) was recently certified as a rehabilitation center for injured and sick sea turtles, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! The recent cold spell gravely affected many of the sea turtles in the ocean. Extreme cold depresses their immune systems and immobilizes them. Many die or become prey for sharks or disease. Gumbo Limbo was expecting 7 or 8 turtles to arrive after the recent cold spell, according to one researcher I spoke to, and they have received more than 140 so far! Needless to say, they’ve been overwhelmed with the task and expense of taking care of these sick turtles. Most of the turtles, fortunately, will be able to be returned to the ocean at some point.
When we arrived, the researchers and volunteers had about 20 of the turtles lying on their backs on the ground (so they wouldn’t get away!) while they examined them, administered antibiotics, etc. I could kick myself now for not taking pictures! I was so fascinated by them at first that I spent all my time talking to the workers there and forgot to get some shots. When I walked over there later, they had taken the turtles back in. So, unfortunately, I can’t show them to you. But I’ve pasted a few pictures here of my boys climbing on the sea turtle models they have in front of the nature center. They’re shown close to scale, so you can see how huge the turtles are compared to my six-year-old boys! In the tanks, they have a live Kemp’s Ridley turtle, which is the most endangered species, with only 500 estimated to be left in the world. Here is his picture from their website:
My family purchased a membership to Gumbo Limbo so we can help further research to save the endangered sea turtles. This was a very educational (and fun) experience for my boys to learn about them and to hear that our family can make a difference. I encourage all parents to take their children to nature centers to learn about local wildlife and efforts to keep them alive!
UPDATE (January 22, 2010): Pictures and more information about the sick sea turtles have been posted on Gumbo Limbo's site. Click HERE to see them.