February Newsletter 2016

CEO Chatter with Jack Lighton

Dear Friends of LMC:

Hello from our beautiful campus in sunny Juno Beach, Florida! From pirates to manatees, our campus has been busy with many events, programs, and partnerships that I am excited to share with you.

Earlier this month, LMC hosted our Ninth Annual Gala, the Swashbuckler Soireé, one of the center’s most important annual fundraising events. This year, our campus was decked out in pirate theme – and the evening welcomed 350 lucky guests on a voyage in celebration of ocean and sea turtle conservation.

This was the most successful gala in LMC’s history and I was profoundly grateful for the statements from one of our special guests, Jungle Jack Hanna – who is a proud ambassador of the center. Jack greeted the evening crowd with this sentiment: “For over 30 years I have traveled the world visiting conservation organizations. I want to tell everyone in this room that you are supporting one of the finest centers on our planet!”

From sword fights to whimsical pirate-themed backdrops, the Swashbuckler Soireé allowed guests to have a great time while raising critical funds that support our free admission policy and programming portfolio. Did you miss out on this year’s event?  Not to worry, the pirates will be back in 2017 in an even bigger and more exciting way.  Please save the date for Friday, January 27, 2017.  We are humbled at the initial support of our 2017 event and honored to have multiple commitments for tickets and sponsorships at our upcoming event.

I am also pleased to inform you that Manatee Lagoon, FPL’s Eco-Discovery Center, opened to the public on February 6. LMC is a proud partner for this facility and is running the center’s beautiful gift store and cafe. The sea turtle and manatee are “cousins in conservation” – each animal requires clean water, abundant and healthy seagrass and both animals hope for responsible boaters. Many manatees and their calfs are at the lagoon now, so please visit this wonderful facility.

Additionally, please set your sights on next month’s 13th annual TurtleFest. This is a free event with great music, shopping, food, and fun for the whole family.

I look forward to visiting with you on campus soon.

Warm Regards,

Jack E. Lighton
President & CEO


Expanding our horizons

LMC’s current campus debuted in 2007 to great fanfare, welcoming 100,000 guests. In 2015, the center hosted a record-setting 300,000+ guests and offered the largest portfolio of services and programming in the history of our center – making LMC one of the top visited cultural destinations in Palm Beach County.

Space constraints limit our ability to increase LMC’s programming and conservation impact. In 2016, LMC will kick off an ambitious campaign to expand our facility.  Our vision is to build a state-of-the art facility that will be used to rehabilitate more sea turtle patients and educate more students. We will also  welcome guests and visiting scientists from around the globe – making LMC one of the world’s preeminent ocean conservation hubs.

As you can see from the rendering, our preliminary building plans have started to take shape. Over the next year, LMC will educate the public about the critical programs on campus and how this expansion will allow our center to significantly increase our programming impact through educational and scientific experiences.

For more information about our proposed expansion, please contact LMC’s development team at 561-627-8280, ext. 103.

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Loggerhead marinelife center’s swashbuckler soirée raised over $100,000 for ocean conservation

Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s premiere fundraiser, the Ninth Annual Lights Out Gala, was held on January 29, overlooking one of the most densely nested and bio-diverse sea turtle nesting beaches in the world.  The event raised more than $100,000 for the non-profit, which will fund its vital work in sea turtle education, research, rehabilitation, and ocean conservation. The event is held annually to celebrate the start of sea turtle nesting season, when residents along the ocean are asked to dim their bright lights to protect nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.


The 2016 gala, themed Swashbuckler Soirée, welcomed a sold-out crowd of 350 of the center’s supporters. Upon arrival to LMC’s campus, guests were greeted by one of the finest pirate bands in the land, The Rusty Cutlass. During cocktail hour, attendees enjoyed savory spirits and the company of their best mates. Visitors toured the center’s world-class sea turtle hospital, interacted with staff and volunteers, and enjoyed up-close encounters with LMC’s sea turtle patients.

“We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and guests for making this gala the most successful (and exciting) event in the history of our center,” said Jack Lighton, LMC President & CEO. “The Swashbuckler Soireé was a huge hit and the proceeds from the night will help us provide lifesaving care for sea turtle patients and continued joy in the hearts and minds oLO4f our visitors,” he added.

After cocktails, the “pirate’s processional” led guests into the grand gala structure, where lads and lassies were treated to a gourmet, seated dinner and premium refreshments prepared by Sandy James Fine Food and Productions. While dining, guests were given a glimpse at LMC’s future when Jack Lighton revealed the vision for the center’s campus expansion.World famous animal ambassador, “Jungle Jack Hanna,” and his wife Suzi Hanna, were also attendees at the gala. “I have traveled the world for over 30 years visiting conservation facilities and I can tell you that the work being done here at LMC is among the finest in the world,” said Jack Hanna. “I encourage you to enthusiastically support the proposed campus expansion so this center can continue to increase their education and conservation impact,” he added. The musical talents of Orson Whitfield of Alacrity Entertainment closed out the evening while guests in their finest pirate attire danced the night away in celebration of sea turtle and ocean conservation.

The presenting sponsor of the Lights Out Gala for the fourth consecutive year was PNC Bank. Additional sponsors included: Alacrity Entertainment, Ann Miller, Betsy Munson & Isabel Stephenson, Bob Chlebek, Braman Motorcars, Brian & Alice Waxman, Bruce Beal, Caler, Donten, Levine, Cohen, Porter & Veil, P.A., Dr. Jack Lighton, Dr. Morgan Poncy, Florida Power & Light, Florida Weekly, Forever Frosty, Gordon and Patricia Gray & Family, Gretchen Scott, Gunster, Jack Lighton & Giovanni Di Stadio, Jupiter Medical Center, Leanna Landsmann & Chip Block, Lee Wealth Management, Loggerhead Marina, PNC Financial Services, Inc., Palm Beach Illustrated, Pete & Lynne Wells, Pratt & Whitney, Roe Green, Ross & Susan Johnson, Tequesta Insurance Advisors, The Fite Group Luxury Homes, The Gardens Mall, The Hunting Family Foundation, Toshiba, and WLS Vitamins & Dr. and Mrs. Jefferson Vaughan.

Save the date! The Swashbuckler Soirée will be held next year on Friday, January 27, 2017.

Florida Power & Light’s manatee Lagoon is now open!

12669666_1697902033821641_7006530747920364137_nFlorida Power & Light’s Manatee Lagoon opened to the public on February 6. LMC is a proud partner for this facility and is running the center’s beautiful gift store and cafe. The sea turtle and manatee are “cousins in conservation” – each animal requires clean water, abundant and healthy seagrass and both animals hope for responsible boaters. Many manatees and their calfs are at the lagoon now, so please  visit this wonderful facility.In addition to a wonderful educational experience, the center offers free admission and free parking to guests.

You can read more about Manatee Lagoon here.

The 2016 sea turtle nesting season begins on march 1!


The LMC research department is currently prepping for the start of nesting surveys. Sea turtle nesting season officially kicks off on March 1 on the southeastern coast of Florida. In the next few weeks, leatherback sea turtles will begin to congregate near our Florida coastline to begin their nesting season – which typically runs from March – June. Last year, our team recorded 213 leatherback nests. We are excited to see how many nests we will record in 2016!

In addition to preparing for morning surveys, we are also getting ready to begin nighttime surveys for leatherback sea turtles. We will be conducting a new research project this year, with the goal of analyzing the health of the nesting turtles across the season. Our Research Innovations Manager, Stephanie Kedzuf, will be heading up the Leatherback Project.
The first step for nesting season preparations is to hire exceptional field technicians and interns to conduct the daily work. Each year we receive applications from across the United States. We are currently interviewing applicants and are pleased to announce that three of our past seasonal employees will be returning this year.
Our staff members will be traveling later this month to the Southeastern Regional Sea Turtle Meeting in Mobile, Alabama and the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Lima, Peru. LMC’s Research Data Manager, Sarah Hirsch, will be presenting on the effects of geotextile containers that were placed on two different nesting beaches – one was placed here in Juno Beach and the other was on the western coast of Florida near Sarasota. The geotextile containers are a form of beach erosion control. She will be presenting on the effects on nesting success for loggerhead and green turtles at the International Symposium. Stephanie Kedzuf will also be presenting at the conference in Peru. Her presentation will be on the effects of beach walk overs and access points on nesting success.

Curious how you can help this nesting season? Check out our nesting season do’s and don’ts!

Possible Hybrid Hatchlings?

During the months of December and January, the hospital received some unique patients. These patients were a total of six possible hybrid hatchlings. Hybrids occur when two different species mate and produce offspring. In some cases, especially in mammals, the offspring are sterile, like mules. In other cases, they may be fertile, which appears to be the case with sea turtles. It is probably not common because the turtles will select for their own species first.

This season a possible hybrid laid her first nest on the neighboring beach of John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in mid-October. Ten days later, LMC’s research department found a similar nest on Juno Beach. In late-January, we received three additional hatchlings from MacArthur Park, but the nest was not located. We believe all three of these nests were laid by the same turtle due to the time between each nest emergence, and by how late in the nesting season they were laid.


We speculate the hatchlings we received are hybrids for multiple reasons. The first being how late in the nesting season they were laid. Loggerheads typically nest in Florida from April to September, while hawksbills have been known to nest as late as November. Typically, hawksbills do not nest this far north as Florida only receives a few nests each year. Their nesting sites are mainly distributed throughout the greater Caribbean. Hawksbills also tend to nest in vegetation, which correlates to this year’s nests being laid higher up in the dunes than loggerheads normally lay their eggs.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center has a history of hybrids nesting on our beaches. During last year’s nesting season, LMC’s research department sent in samples for genetic testing from a possible hybrid nest. The nest was confirmed to be a hybrid between a loggerhead and hawksbill sea turtle. To obtain results from genetic testing, either a deceased hatchling or an unhatched egg needs to be tested. To determine the hatchlings from this year’s genetic makeup, LMC sent in a deceased hatchling from one of the nests. We are still waiting on the results from this sample.

View an adorable video of one of our possible hybrids eating morning breakfast here.

Swim with LMC: a new destination eco-tour program

Loggerhead Marinelife Center is pleased to kick-off our brand new Serving the World’s Imperiled Marine life (SWIM) program, a destination eco-tour program that flies guests to national and international destinations to assist with marine conservation projects and responsibly explore the local ecosystems on 3–9 day hands-on field excursions. Enjoy an all-inclusive* trip with trained biologist tour guides to experience a once in a lifetime vacation.

2016 destinations and projects include:

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* Airfare and all meals included

What you will get (and give):

  • Assist conservation organizations with their day-to-day efforts and special projects
  • Provide support for non-profit conservation organizations in need of volunteer and financial assistance
  • Take an active role in global conservation efforts to help minimize the effects of human impacts on marine life
  • Explore diverse ecosystems while learning about their ecological importance in local communities


To learn more about these 2016 experiences, click here. Spaces limited and reserved on a first come, first serve basis.

March Madness is back!


On Sunday, February 28, 2016, on-campus guests will have exclusive first sign-up for our FREE Mommy & Me Paint classes offered during for our third annual March Madness Kick-Off Event. In addition to exclusive pre-registration access, guests will have the opportunity to win a free Birthday Party at LMC, draw prizes, and learn about the many creative arts organizations in our community.

This March, prepare your family for fun and madness at Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC)! All month long, community partners will be collaborating with LMC to offer free Mommy & Me Paint programs offered every Thursday. Children paint their very own sea turtle ceramic to take home (all materials included) during this interactive program. Mommy & Me Paint  is offered at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays. Pre-registration is required.

If you are not able to attend our March Madness Kick-Off Event but would still like to participate, registration opens on Tuesday, March 1, to the public and is granted on a first come, first serve basis. Pre-registration is required for all March Madness programs and limited space is available. Please RSVP your child’s attendance with Hannah Campbell, Programs Coordinator at hcampbell@marinelife.org.

Hope to see you there!

March Madness is sponsored by:



Invasive species removal


Get your hands dirty with Loggerhead Marinelife Center staff on Sunday, February 21, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. as we work with seasoned biologists to remove invasive plants from our backyard natural areas in Loggerhead Park. We’ll also be celebrating Invasive Species Awareness Week on campus with visiting community organizations to help spread awareness about local conservation efforts. During this 3-hour event, you will enjoy a safety and equipment orientation, as well as a brief plant identification class before heading out into the dunes to remove invasive plants that pose a threat to the natural ecosystem.

Healthy snacks and drinks will be offered throughout the afternoon and all tools are provided. No experience necessary. Space is limited, so please RSVP your attendance to Hannah Campbell, Programs Coordinator, at hcampbell@marinelife.org. Let’s help keep Juno Beach natural!

Project shield in Vieques hotels

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This week, 2,500 rack cards are being printed for use in beach-side hotels in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Loggerhead Marinelife Center staff has been working with partners at TICATOVE, Black Beard Sports, USFWS, and DRNA to compile information about the three nesting species of sea turtles that can be found on the island and steps tourists can take to aid in their protection. You can read more about Project SHIELD on the Conservation Blog.

Volunteers of the year

Congratulations to Betsy Smith and David Whiteley, two of our many dedicated volunteers that are essential
to us carrying out our important mission on a daily basis.

David Whitely

David Whiteley has been a volunteer at LMC for three years and has donated more than 2,000 hours in that time. David volunteers in the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Department. He is a responsible rehabilitation permit volunteer who feeds the turtles three times a week. He also spends at least one shift per week helping the staff with treatments and routine husbandry work. The sea turtle food preparations and procedures have greatly improved due to David’s dedication, donations and advice. David attends nearly all sea turtle releases. He always arrives early to assist with set-up and crowd control during these events.

Along with his sea turtle rehabilitation volunteer duties, David enjoys volunteering for special events including TurtleFest, on campus educational events, and outreaches. David is also a Turtle Walk volunteer each summer. He volunteers for at least two Turtle Walk scouting shifts per week. David is  always willing to fill in for extra shifts and helps train our new Turtle Walk scout volunteers each season.

Outside of his regularly scheduled volunteer shifts, David is an active Blue Friends Society member who participates in social events, beach clean-ups and the Go Blue Awards Luncheon.

At the moment, David is currently unable to volunteer due to a major shoulder surgery he underwent in November 2015. However, that does not stop him from supporting Loggerhead Marinelife Center. David has offered any help and support he can while on medical leave from volunteering. He frequently visits to make sure he stays up to date on our sea turtle patients.

David is extremely devoted and loves being a volunteer, part of the LMC family and a sea turtle advocate. We are so grateful to have someone like David Whiteley in the volunteer program. David truly believes in our cause and we are so thankful for all of his dedication to Loggerhead Marinelife Center.


Betsy Smith has been a volunteer at LMC for ten years, donating more than 3,000 hours in that time. She volunteers in the Education Department and at the Juno Beach Pier to bring our message of conservation to children, adults and families. Betsy is an education docent, leads Living Beaches and volunteers for Turtle Walks and Hatchling Releases. Betsy also attends outreaches on behalf of LMC, representing or mission in the community with great enthusiasm.

At the Juno Beach Pier, Betsy collects, untangles and cleans used monofilament fishing line every two weeks and then sends it to the monofilament recycling center. In 2015, Betsy helped LMC recycle monofilament line that would stretch more than 20 miles. Betsy also assists with the Kid’s Fishing Clinic at the pier. She teaches young anglers knot tying, casting, species identification, proper release protocols, sea turtle rescue and the importance of recycling.

Betsy has also been an integral part of the Trash Free Seas program (implemented at LMC in 2014). Betsy cleans a .6 mile stretch of beach in Coral Cove about five times per week. The most common items she  collects are small bits of plastic. Over 90% of the trash LMC has documented through the Trash Free Seas program has been collected by Betsy.

In addition to her weekly volunteer commitments, Betsy is an integral part of TurtleFest. Each year, Betsy helps coordinate approximately 150 external volunteers to assist with the large event. Betsy recruits and meets with community members and organizations to ensure all of the volunteer needs are met. Betsy’s support helps create a successful event.

Betsy is an extremely dedicated volunteer who inspires all of us to persevere and reminds us that everyone can make a difference. We thank Betsy for being such a great addition to the LMC volunteer team.

February seminar series

Join us at Loggerhead Marinelife Center for a series of Wednesday evening seminars!  Topics will include: sea turtles, invasive plants, local restoration projects, how you can take part in conservation, and more. Admission is free! For more information, please contact Demi at 561-627-8280 ext. 107 or dfox@marinelife.org.

February 17: Benji Studt, “Land, Water, Adventure: Palm Beach County’s Natural Areas.”


February 24: Blair and Dawn Witherington, “Our Sea Turtles – Up Close and Personal.” Following their presentations, the Witheringtons would be pleased to sign copies of their books.


6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Light refreshments served.


Love is in the sea!

BraceletOur gift store has the perfect items for your loved one(s) this Valentine’s Day! Need ideas? Come shop with us. We have beautiful ocean-themed jewelry, luxury chocolate, candles, lotions, clothing, sea turtle plushies, and more. Not local? Make sure to visit our online store.

How cute is this bracelet? And it’s only $10 too! You can purchase it at our gift store or here

We’d also like to give a giant welcome to Paula Szabo, the Manatee Lagoon Gift Store and Cafe Manager. Make sure to visit her at Manatee Lagon!










Thank You, Our Amazing Supporters

• Special thanks to Bunulu at The Gardens Mall for hosting a Shop & Share and our Ninth Annual Lights Out Gala Sponsor’s Reception. Bunulu shares the appreciation for the ocean with Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Bunulu donated 20% of all sales made on January 13 back to LMC.










• Thank you to our January beach clean-up sponsors: Sally Ann Weger, VP and Donna J.Mackay, CFP®, CFA, Weger/Mackay Group, and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Also, a special thank you to everyone that dedicated their Saturday morning for the turtles. We were able to remove 81 pounds of debris!Thanks to India & Kaya Gray for their continued support towards marine conservation. India & Kaya, along with their Aunt, Alison Gray Ricker, participated in our educational program, Dr. Logger, where they learned about sea turtle and ocean conservation. The following morning, the girls conducted their own beach clean-up. Thank you for sharing what you learned with us!
















• Thanks to India & Kaya Gray for their continued support towards marine conservation. India & Kaya, along with their Aunt, Alison Gray Ricker, participated in our educational program, Dr. Logger, where they learned about sea turtle and ocean conservation. The following morning, the girls conducted their own beach clean-up. Thank you for sharing what you learned with us!