Loggerhead Marinelife Center Brings New Eco-Tourism Programs to North Palm Beach County

ImageFlorida is a place filled with diverse animal life and rare ecosystems, with Juno Beach being no exception. These ecosystems and animal life create the opportunity for travelers to engage in ecotourism activities, which the International Ecotourism Society says entails “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is introducing two new programs this summer to accommodate the ever growing eco-tourism trend in Florida. These programs will engage visitors in how they can help sustain and enhance the natural resources they travel to Florida to enjoy.

“North Palm Beach County is one of the most bio-diverse areas in all of Florida,” said Jack Lighton, LMC President & CEO. “North County offers our residents and visitors multiple unique ecosystems to enjoy – our beaches, coastal waters and extraordinary underwater reef systems, known as the rain forests of the sea,” he added.

Designed for people who crave exploring under the ocean, the center is offering a ProjectAWARE Sea Turtle Awareness Class & Dive Trip, in collaboration with Jupiter Dive Center.  This Sea Turtle Awareness Distinctive specialty course introduces scuba divers to basic sea turtle identification and conservation.  Guests will learn about preserving the aquatic environment and about the sea turtle species common in Florida’s tropical waters. Students will be given the knowledge and skills needed to identify sea turtles and record sightings. Visitors will also learn about the decline in sea turtle populations, the importance of sea turtles to marine biodiversity and what they can do to reduce the loss of sea turtles worldwide. Following the class, there will be a two tank dive leaving from Jupiter Dive Center at Riverwalk in Jupiter. This is a PADI Specialty course which earns you a certification card and credit towards the respected Master Scuba Diver accreditation. The class with be held on Sunday, August 25 starting at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $169 and includes: Boxed lunch, t-shirt, boat charter, 2 air tanks (nitrox upgrade $10), materials and a Sea Turtle Awareness Project Aware Specialty card and certification. Please call Jupiter Dive Center at 561-745-7807 or e-mail amy@jupiterdivecenter.com to reserve your spot. You can visit www.marinelife.org/eco for more information.

“Loggerhead Marinelife Center is investing heavily to expand our educational and ecotourism portfolio which will help showcase our local environmental resources and educate our visitors on the local habitats which threatened and endangered sea turtles call home,” said Lighton.

LMC will also be hosting a brand new guided Eco-paddle tour program. Joining forces with Blueline Paddle Surf, the center’s education staff will lead guests on an educational paddle expedition through the mangrove channels and sea grass beds of the East Loxahatchee River/Jupiter Inlet area. Visitors will learn about the natural history and local ecology of the area, as well as have the opportunity to  explore the local marine biodiversity of this beautiful region. The first tour will be held Wednesday, July 3, starting at 8:30 a.m. For pricing, questions, or to make a reservation for an Eco-tour, please contact the education department at 561-627-8280 ext. 119 or eorellana@marinelife.org. You can also visit www.marinelife.org/eco.

Along with the center’s new ecotourism programs, LMC continues to offer the popular, summertime Turtle Walks. The walks will be held Wednesday through Saturday evenings in June and July, which is the peak time of nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles to emerge from the ocean and lay her eggs. These walks are held on Juno Beach, one of the most densely nested loggerhead sea turtle beaches in the world, home to over 11,000 loggerhead nests last year. Wildlife Turtle Walks are amazing experiences that allow visitors to learn about, and observe, the nesting and egg-laying process of sea turtles.  Experienced LMC scouts will patrol the center’s designated section of Juno Beach searching for sea turtles while visitors enjoy an informative presentation on the plight of sea turtles and visit with some of the beloved patients in the outdoor sea turtle yard.  Once a sea turtle is found and begins her egg-laying process, the group is then able to join the scouts on the beach to watch this unforgettable experience. Turtle Walks are $17 per person or $12 per person for LMC members. The walks start at 9:00 p.m. and end at 12:00 p.m. Children must be 8 years or older to attend the walksFor more information on Turtle Walks or to register, visit www.marinelife.org/turtlewalk.