Editor’s Note — The Ocean Organization Spotlight series features all kinds of conservation, research and education organizations around the world. Luckily for me, I was able to spend the afternoon at this week’s Spotlight organization, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Environmental Program Coordinator Kristen Child and Marine Conservationist Dr. Kirt Rusenko showed me around the facility where I saw the butterfly garden, four impressive sea tanks, the sea turtle rehabilitation facility, and much more.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (GLNC) was founded in 1984 as a place for environmental education and conservation. Thirty years later, their mission remains the same: “To increase public awareness of coastal and marine ecosystems through research, education, preservation, and conservation.”
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center offers school programs that meet Florida state science education requirements. Every year GLNC teaches more than 10,000 students about coastal and marine ecology.
They also offer several other programs that are open to the public, including guided walks through GLNC’s quarter-mile boardwalk and other nearby attractions, lectures on environmental topics, and chances to get up close and personal with Florida’s local marine life.
Preservation and Conservation
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is known for its sea turtle conservation efforts. They rescue injured sea turtles, release stranded hatchlings, and monitor more than 600 nests across a five mile stretch of beaches. GLNC has cared for sick and injured sea turtles for the last two decades, but until recently, they had no on-site treatment facilities. In 2010, they opened the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility (STRF) where they have since treated almost 250 sea turtles.
STRF patients are admitted with a range of injuries, from boat propeller strikes, to infection. Some turtles only stay for a month, while others may require a full year to recover, depending on the severity of their condition. When the veterinarian says the turtle is healthy, they get released back to the ocean.
The Boca Raton Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program is based at GLNC. Conservationists monitor, record and study sea turtle nesting activity, they respond to reports of dead or injured sea turtles, and they conduct nighttime lighting surveys to identify any lighting problems that may disorient both adult and hatchling sea turtles.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is also home to a Florida Atlantic University marine lab where students and researchers study sea turtle behavior, physiology and ecology. Researchers are studying the gender-ratio of hatchlings, swimming mechanics, anatomy, the effects of lighting on sea turtle behavior and more. The lab has a public gallery where visitors can observe and speak with researchers. If you come during the summer and fall, you’ll be able to see sea turtle hatchlings!
Sea Turtle Day!
If you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss the 9th Annual Sea Turtle Day! The festival will include guided tours, tank feedings, children’s theater performances, food trucks and all kinds of environmental organizations. It’s held on March 1st, the first official day of sea turtle nesting season in South Florida.
Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.