CEO Chatter with Jack Lighton
Dear Friends of LMC,
What an exciting week we have just had! I am thrilled to report that we sent multiple sea turtle patients back into their ocean homes last week. This is due to the incredible care and love they receive from our staff, volunteers, donors and supporters.
I would like to take this opportunity to share some news with you about one release last week. One that is particularly special to many of us – the release of our beloved “Reef.” Reef was admitted to our hospital over two years ago and was critically ill upon arrival. Watching the health transformation of this beautiful loggerhead sea turtle has been heartwarming. Once Reef was healthy and gaining weight, we noticed that a shell deformation (likely from a boat interaction) was putting unnatural pressure on the turtle’s rear flippers and spine. Dr. Manire arranged for Reef to have an orthopedic procedure here in our hospital to correct this abnormality.
Once Reef recovered from surgery, she needed additional rehabilitation (physical and behavioral) so we built her a custom ledge in the deep tank which allowed her to practice swimming and sleeping in a more natural environment. Watching Reef overcome all of her health challenges, with the help of our staff and volunteers, was truly remarkable. I will never forget Reef’s journey from recovery to release.
It is only due to the unwavering support shown to LMC that we can have extraordinary stories, just like the story of Reef. The health care protocols that we are developing here in Juno Beach are being shared with institutions and teams all around the world. These collaborations are increasing the odds of survival for many, many more sea turtles. I would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support and passion for our cause. We look forward to visiting with you during your next trip to our campus.
Jack Lighton, President & CEO.
Reef Heads Home After 2+ Years at LMC
Reef was one of LMC’s more popular sea turtle patients. One could even say that Reef was guests’ favorite patient to take a #seaturtleselfie with. After we announced Reef’s release on Facebook, dozens of photos flooded our newsfeed of people posing with Reef and wishing her the best of luck on her journey back into the ocean. After over two years of rehabilitation at LMC, Reef was released back into the ocean on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. Just prior to Reef’s release, we were able to confirm that Reef is indeed a female with the use of our brand new ultrasound machine. This equipment was purchased due to generous donations made by the Fleming Family Foundation and the Knopf Family Foundation.
Reef was loaded onto a Jupiter Dive Center boat and released at Lighthouse Reef in Jupiter, Florida. This area has many natural ledges, which are an important part of the loggerhead’s natural habitat since these animals spend much of their time resting under the ledges. LMC staff observed Reef spending much of her time under an artificial ledge placed in her tank over a month ago. It was obvious to the veterinary staff that (given a natural habitat) Reef would return back to normal behavior. This was all confirmed during Reef’s release. As soon soon as her flippers touched the ocean water, she swam away straighter and faster than we have ever seen that turtle swim before. You can watch her swim away here.
Reef is a sub-adult, female loggerhead sea turtle that was rescued by lifeguards at Ocean Reef Park in March 2013. When Reef was first admitted to LMC’s hospital, it was due to chronic debilitation and a long term issue, resulting from an old boat strike injury which was putting unnatural pressure on her rear flippers and spine. Reef successfully underwent orthopedic surgery last year to remove a portion of the carapace damaged by the likely boat strike. This will allow Reef to continue growing without pressure on her rear flippers and spine.
You can view pictures of Reef’s joyful return to the ocean our Facebook. Special thanks to Jupiter Dice Center for donating their boat, staff and time to helping us release this precious animal back into the wild. We wish Reef the best!
As of June 12, our research department has recorded 201 leatherback nests, 5,176 loggerhead nests, and 709 green sea turtle nests along our survey area.
The 2015 nesting season is in full swing. The leatherbacks are coming ashore less frequently this month and will continue to decrease in number into July. The leatherbacks will begin to migrate to their foraging ground up north in the upcoming months. The loggerheads began nesting in mid-April, and are currently nesting at a much higher rate than recorded at this same time last year. We are predicting a very high nesting season. The previous record-breaking year for loggerheads was 2012, and we are currently slightly above the nesting numbers from that season. In 2012, LMC recorded 11,525 loggerhead nests.
The green turtles are absolutely here! In one month, we have already recorded over 500 green turtle nests, which is about five times as many green turtle nests as were recorded at this same time during our record-breaking year in 2013. In 2013, we recorded 4,689 green turtle nests. The number of green turtles coming ashore on our beaches is absolutely unprecedented. Visitors to the beach are spotting mating pairs of green turtles almost on a daily basis. It is common for the green turtles to maintain their mating embrace into the surf. Please keep a safe viewing distance of at least 50 feet from the pair if you witness a set of turtles near shore.
Additionally this month, our Field Operations Manager, Adrienne McCracken, and Hospital Coordinator, Nicole Montgomery, will be traveling to Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, for a symposium on sea turtle research and rehabilitation. They will both present at the symposium.
JMB Summer Camp is Here!
Look out, Juno Beach! This summer, hundreds of aspiring scientists (ages 6-17) are taking over Loggerhead Marinelife Center to participate in our Junior Marine Biologist Summer Camp program. June 8 kicked off the official start of summer camp with our popular Turtle Adventures session. Campers took a tour of our sea turtle hospital, spent a day in the life of our research team, snorkeled and seined, worked together to portray the dangers of nesting, and even created their own shell to take home. There is still limited space available in our Explore Florida camp, where campers will learn about and explore the diverse Florida ecosystems. For more information on availability, fees, and sessions, please visit www.marinelife.org/camp. Want to see what a day at JMB camp is really like? Check out our JMB blog!
Turtle Walks – Take Your Chances on Walking In!
Turtle Walks for June and July are officially sold out, but that doesn’t mean you’ve completely missed out! If you’re still hoping to secure a spot at our nighttime Turtle Walks, you still could by walking in. Walk-ins may be admitted the night of the program in the event of a cancellation. Some weeks on Facebook, we will be announcing the opening of a select number of spots to late registrants. These typically sell fast! To know when these spots open, make sure to like us on Facebook.
So what exactly is a Turtle Walk? A Turtle Walk is a unique program that allows our visitors to learn about (and observe) the nesting and egg-laying process of sea turtles. Experienced Loggerhead Marinelife Center scouts will patrol our designated section of Juno Beach searching for sea turtles while visitors enjoy an informative presentation on the plight of sea turtles, and take an exclusive, behind-the-gate tour to meet our current sea turtle patients. Once a loggerhead sea turtle is found and begins her egg-laying process, the group is then led down to the beach to witness this unforgettable process.
Program Spotlight: Public Guided Tours
Take a walk on the other side of the “gates” on our Public Guided Tours to get up close and personal with our current sea turtle patients! An experienced Loggerhead Marinelife Center Education Docent will lead you and your guests throughout our interactive exhibit hall and outdoor sea turtle hospital tanks on this one-hour exclusive tour of the facility. Undeniably the best way to experience our center, the Public Guided Tours offer a much more personalized and in-depth look into our day-to-day operations and the reason why we do what we do.
Pre-registration is accepted on campus only, one hour prior to the program. The tours are $7/adult and $5/child and offered at 12 p.m. on Sundays and 2 p.m. on Mondays. Interested in an exclusive tour for just you and your guests? Private Guided Tours and Evening Guided Tours can be booked based on availability seven days a week. Fore more information on our facility tours or to book a private or evening tour after hours, please contact Hannah Campbell, Programs Coordinator, at email@example.com.
World Oceans Day- Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet!
Did you know? It can take up to 20 years for a plastic bag to break down in the environment, and much longer for fishing line, plastic bottles and styrofoam. That’s a looooooong time.
Last weekend, we celebrated World Oceans Day. Over 300 guests popped in to visit with our sea turtle patients and participate in this fun event. Each guest received a free reusable bag, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, as they pledges to Take the Better Bag! This challenge is a national campaign to promote the use of reusable bags instead of disposable, plastic bags while shopping. Pledgers vowed to cut down on their plastic use by banning plastic bags from their daily lives for one year. Do you think you can beat the challenge? We want to know! Tag us @loggerheadMC and #betterbag to tell us how you plan to cut down your plastic use.
Missed out on the fun? Check out this year’s photos here.
Looking for a Father’s Day Gift? Look No Further!
Father’s Day is this Sunday! Make Dad smile with a special gift from our wonderful gift store. We have something for every father, no matter what his interests are. Everything from cologne, soaps, marine life-themed ties, hats, t-shirts and polarized shades. You can also adopt a sea turtle in honor of a dad in your life. You can adopt a sea turtle now for as low as $35! All adoptions include a personalized certificate and letter, a glossy photograph, educational materials, and advance notice on your turtle’s release. Your thoughtful gift helps LMC save these magnificent creatures while engaging your loved ones in the ongoing need for ocean conservation. Not local? You can always check out our online gift store for sea turtle and marine-themed gifts. We keep growing our online store every week with more and more items. Happy shopping!
Volunteers of the Month: Maril Levy & Karen Six
We would like to give a huge congratulations to LMC’s June volunteers of the month, Maril Levy & Karen Six! Maril and Karen are our wonderful Mommy & Me Paint! docents. Both ladies also lead field trips, volunteer for special events and volunteer as education docents in the Turtle Yard. Maril has been a LMC volunteer for three years and has accumulated 650 volunteer hours. Karen has been a LMC volunteer for a year and a half and has volunteered 210 hours.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers at LMC and no one exemplifies the hard work and passion of our volunteer community than Maril and Karen,” said Hannah Campbell, LMC Program Coordinator. “Always dependable and timely, their reliability is matched only by their positive attitudes and warm demeanor,” she added.
Throughout October – May, you can find Maril and Karen working together as a team to create a fun and educational atmosphere for young children in Mommy & Me Paint!, field trips, and in the Turtle yard.
Special Thanks to our Generous Donors & Supporters
• Special thanks to the children from Bridges Montessori School! They visited LMC for a field trip on June 1. They donated $550 back to the center. This money was earned because the children did extra chores around the house, hosted lemonade stands and participated in other fundraising activities (pictured, above).
• A very special thank you to the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation for granting LMC the funds to purchase a flexible Endoscopy Unit. This will be used to perform endoscopic exams and endoscopic surgical procedures on our sea turtle patients. This unit will allow for advanced diagnostics to assess the health of our patients and will allow our veterinary staff to better intervene when a patient has an internal injury or blockages. This new system will also allow LMC’s veterinary staff to educate visiting veterinarians, as well as interns and residents in a much more visual and sophisticated way.