Posted on 4/22/2022
Let’s talk about turtles!
Sea turtles have long been locals to the beautiful stretch of shoreline in Northwest Florida known as the Emerald Coast. Each year sea turtles head to the beach to lay their eggs here. When the babies hatch, they make their way back to the Gulf of Mexico to begin their new lives in the water. Of course, the journey for turtles isn’t always easy. And that’s where the Gulfarium comes in!
The Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on marine life education and preservation. Specifically, the Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center specializes in sea life conservation, rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Much of the work conducted by the C.A.R.E Center is dedicated to turtle rescue and rehabilitation.
Recently the C.A.R.E. Center partnered with Destin-Fort Walton Beach to create the “C.A.R.E.”ing for Turtles program. Tabitha Siegfried, the Stranding Coordinator of the C.A.R.E Center, said that the program is intended to bring sea turtle awareness to the local community and Emerald Coast visitors. Destin beaches are home to nesting Loggerhead, Green, and Kemp Ridley turtles, all of which are considered either critically endangered, endangered, or threatened globally. Those attending the after-hours program will get a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into taking care of turtles in the facility.
Related Article: Florida Sea Turtle Rescue
As part of this event, visitors will get to see the current patients in rehab, learn why the turtles are there, and discover how each turtle is doing in the recovery process. After seeing the turtles, participants will take part in a mock in-take of an injured turtle. This offers a hands-on experience of what it’s like when a turtle stranded on the beach or from the pier is brought into the facility. Following the mock take-in, visitors will get to see a mock sea turtle nest. At this point, C.A.R.E specialists will go over the nesting process, discuss what identifies a sea turtle nest, and share how the individuals can help sea turtles if they stumble upon a nest on the beach. The purpose of the program is to help visitors be more cognizant when they’re on the beaches, and understand how to help sea turtles locally.
The ”C.A.R.E”ing for Turtles program lasts about an hour and is for ages eight and up. Tickets are $10 and do not include general admission to the park.
Attending this program is a great way to try something new and become more knowledgeable about local sea life while here on the Emerald Coast. Not only will you get a great Destin vacation, but you will also add to that experience by learning more about these amazing locals and discover ways you can help!
Keep reading: Gulfarium Marine Park Expansion