In the past, volunteers from the local Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) have had to transport washbacks and injured/ill sea turtles to rehab facilities in Ponce Inlet - a 75 mile trek from Melbourne Beach. It was not the lack of a facility that kept Brevard County from having its own rehab center, but rather the lack of a qualified vet certified to care for sea turtles. (Since they are endangered, the requirements for becoming certified are stringent.) I'm so delighted to announce that the Sea Turtle Healing Center has been officially opened at our Brevard Zoo, thanks to a cooperative effort between the Zoo and the STPS folks. The facility was issued its sea turtle rehab permit by the State of Florida on April 15. It's not open to the public, but Margie Mitchell was part of a group that toured the facility last week and shared her photos and her enthusiasm. Congratulations to everybody that has worked hard for years tomake this happen!
Sea turtle nesting season is May through October, and beach residents are asked to turn off all lights visible from the beach, pull drapes to dim lights, etc. Flash photos and flashlight around sea turtles at night are forbidden. Turtles and hatchlings are oriented toward the light of the horizon and and can be disoriented by artificial lights. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society offers guided night walks during June and July, and the volunteers work very hard to ensure you get to see a sea turtle laying her eggs - an experience you will long remember. June walks are every night except Thursday and Sunday. July walks are every night except Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Call ahead for reservations - 321-676-1701
(Sorry - I cannot figure out how to include photos in this new blog format, but there are lots of sea turtle pix on the blog from "back in the day" when I blogged a lot and knew how to do it!)