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Photo by Jeff Biege

As our staff reflects on 2016, we’re thinking about all of the ways that Loggerhead Marinelife Center has grown tremendously thanks to the support of its donors, guests and community partners and our dedicated staff and base of 300+ volunteers. In 1983, the Center began as an educational facility formerly known as The Children’s Museum of Juno Beach. And because we believe that 2016 – 33 years after the creation of LMC – has been an amazing year, we want to share just a few of the highlights that have occurred, including the following:

Research

2016 was a record-setting nesting year for the research staff at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. This year, the team documented over 16,000 nests on the 9.5 miles of beach that LMC monitors annually between March 1 and October 31! It was a particularly strong year for the loggerhead sea turtles that nest on our beaches, breaking an all-time record for that stretch of beach. This year, LMC’s research team also revamped its Leatherback Project, allowing time to focus on the mysterious pelagic, or open water, species that live just offshore but nest on our local beaches. This was accomplished through a mark-and-recapture program and focus on leatherback’s metabolomics (the function of biological systems).

Rehabilitation

Our hospital staff has been incredibly busy this year rescuing and rehabilitating over 60 patients in the sea turtle hospital – including greens, loggerheads, olive ridleys, Kemp’s ridleys and hawksbills! In fact, in October LMC rescued an olive ridley sea turtle that was found stranded in Hobe Sound Beach – the fifth olive ridley to be documented stranding in Florida and the first olive ridley to strand as far north as Martin County. LMC’s rehabilitation team also presented their research on post-hatchling treatments and sea turtle rehabilitation at the Sea Turtle Workshop in Marathon, Florida this December.

Education

For the first time, LMC launched SWIM (Serving the World’s Imperiled Marine Life) an eco-destination tour program designed for the traveler with a desire to give back. Our SWIM excursions gave LMC the opportunity to explore beautiful ecosystems in Juno Beach, Florida, Maui, Hawaii and Padre Ramos, Nicaragua and share our knowledge of sea turtles and ocean conservation with participants, assisting local non-profits with their daily conservation efforts. The education department also launched new public programs including Sea Turtle Savers, a winter workshop series, and Biologist Beach Walks, which takes guests on a journey through the research efforts of LMC’s scientists, including nest excavations and hatchling releases.

Conservation

In 2016, we reached 50 pier partners under the Responsible Pier Initiative. The program, which began three years ago, now has partners in Puerto Rico and the states of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. In 2016, LMC launched its Balloon Ban program, an initiative which gives municipalities in the state of Florida the ability to participate in banning single-use balloons. This is implemented through ordinances and educational signage and materials (depending on the level chosen by each municipality) in an effort to reduce pollution from balloons, which are harmful to sea turtles and other marine life when accidentally ingested. LMC’s conservation team also attended the Fourth Annual International Marine Conservation Congress in Newfoundland, St. John’s and Labrador, Canada, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) show in Las Vegas, Nevada and the International Coastal Cleanup Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting in Hong Kong.

Gift Store

In 2016, LMC’s gift store began intentionally searching for more ways to reduce waste in their everyday work and promote the use of sustainable products, including Bento boxes, reusable water bottles and more. We have also made an effort to update our e-store items adding five new products every single week, including sustainable items. The gift store also began highlighting its local vendor partners who provide fabulous merchandise that fills the store. As a result, LMC selects a vendor every month to be interviewed for the center’s monthly e-newsletter – highlighting questions including artist inspiration, background and more.

Marketing & Development

LMC’s marketing team is excited to announce that the Center reached over 50,000 likes on Facebook in 2016! The marketing team also secured media coverage with articles on the Weather Channel and in The Washington Post, USA Today and more. And for the first time, Loggerhead Marinelife Center partnered with resort-wear powerhouse Lilly Pulitzer on Beach Bash Palm Beach, an annual event on the island of Palm Beach that benefits a charity of choice. The event brought over 600 young philanthropists for a night celebrating “Life Under Printed Palms” to benefit LMC. Additionally, LMC announced its expedition on its capital expansion campaign, Waves of Progress, in an effort to amplify and accelerate its conservation impact, and looks forward to all that 2017 will bring to the center.

For more reflections on 2016 with LMC, visit the center’s website and social media channels.