March 2020 Newsletter: Sea Turtle Nesting Season and Celebrations

CEO Chatter with Jack E. Lighton

Jack Lighton

Dear Friend of LMC,

Hello from the beautiful coastline that is Juno Beach, Florida! From our busy sea turtle hospital to the activity we are now seeing on our local sea turtle nesting beaches, our campus is bustling with activities and learning experiences for the whole family.

March is the official kick-off to sea turtle nesting season here in Florida! Did you know that the 9.5-mile stretch of beach that our Center manages is often lovingly referred to as Florida’s “Turtle Coast?” Our Center is situated on one of the most densely nested loggerhead sea turtle beaches in the world. Because of this, LMC serves as an industry leader for sea turtle and ocean conservation research. 

For LMC, sea turtle nesting season began early this year! On Friday, February 28, a leatherback sea turtle laid the Center’s first nest of the 2020 season. As sea turtle nesting season officially kicks-off in Palm Beach County, it’s important to know information about our returning locals. 

During our 2019 sea turtle nesting and hatching season, which runs from March 1 to October 31, our research team monitored and protected 20,998 nests. 

  • 7,411 Green
  • 187 Leatherback
  • 13,400 Loggerhead

These nests produced an estimated 1.35 million hatchling sea turtles, giving us more than a million reasons to keep our beaches darker, cleaner and sea-turtle-safe. 

When do the locals arrive and when do the little ones hatch? 

  • Greens: Nesting – May to September; Hatching – August to November
  • Leatherbacks: Nesting – March to July; Hatching – May to August
  • Loggerheads: Nesting – April to August; Hatching – July to October

How do I learn more about nesting sea turtles? 

  • Turtle Walks: A guided nighttime program, where our education biologists provide guests with an informational overview of sea turtles, then walk down to the beach to see a nesting sea turtle. 
  • Hatchling Releases: A guided nighttime program, where our education biologists provide guests with an informational overview of sea turtles, then walk down to the beach to release hatchlings back into the ocean. 
  • Biologist Beach Walks: A guided morning program, where our education biologists provide guests with an informational overview of sea turtles, then walk on to the beach to witness a nest excavation. 
  • SWIM: A guided week-long eco-tour to Bonaire, Netherlands or Juno Beach, FL where guests assist local conservation organizations with their efforts. At Juno Beach, guests have the opportunity to participate in behind-the-scenes experiences at LMC. 

Sea turtles face new threats. With your help, we will continue to protect them:

Although our 9.5-mile stretch of beach is full of nesting and hatching activity, sea turtles are still fighting to survive and face new threats, including microplastics, rising temperatures and habitat loss. 

Experts estimate that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings reach adulthood. Unfortunately, 100% of hatchlings and post-hatchlings that arrive at our Center have ingested microplastics. 

To combat these threats and increase their chances of survival, our researchers vigorously conduct innovative studies to protect our locals. We ask you to follow our Sea Turtle Nesting Season Guidelines to ensure our nesting and hatching sea turtles have the best chance of survival.

Your support has transformed our ability to increase local and global protections of sea turtles and our oceans. Thank you for being an ocean and sea turtle hero. With your continued support, we will be able to accelerate our conservation and education impact.  

We invite you to share our nesting season information with your networks! Join LMC for a nesting or hatching season program or make a tax-deductible gift to our annual fund, so together, we can continue to protect our locals. 

With Your Support, We Can: 

Making Waves of Progress:

Your support of our mission is transforming the conversation around ocean and sea turtle conservation. We have a unique ability to enter the hearts and minds of our guests, and our sea turtle patients often create ocean ambassadors for life. With your help, we can do so much more…

If you have been to our campus in the last few months, you have seen our new campus proudly rising on our bluff! With our construction cam, you can follow along with our progress daily.

While fundraising and construction continue, the excitement continues to build. Our new campus will deliver some very exciting elements allowing us to expand our impact:

  • A lifesaving hospital clean water system
  • Double the patient capacity
  • Double the research and laboratory space
  • Six-times the amount of educational spaces
  • Symposium and conference space
  • Innovative indoor and outdoor exhibits
  • Awe-inspiring and elevated views of the majestic Atlantic Ocean

We want to thank those who have joined our expansion campaign family through their generosity and investment. We invite others in our community to please join our expansion campaign by making a tax-deductible gift to our future – from custom inscribed brick pavers to our ocean conservation wing. Every penny helps build a stronger and more productive LMC. Join us as we become the heroes these sea turtles and our oceans deserve.

On behalf of our entire staff, volunteers, supporters and board of directors, thank you for your continued support of our mission. We look forward to visiting with you on campus this month during the start of nesting season and Spring Training in The Palm Beaches. Our passionate team members are eager to visit with you and our sea turtle patients are sure to bring a smile to your face.

With Gratitude,
Jack E. Lighton
President & CEO

P.S. The 50th anniversary of Earth Day occurs next month. Join LMC on campus or across our community for our Earth Day Celebration, and together, we will make waves of progress.

Mark your Calendar

Blue Friends Society Beach Cleanup
Mark your calendars for another Blue Friends Society beach cleanup on Saturday, March 14! Many thanks to our sponsor for this month’s beach cleanup: NASON, YEAGER, GERSON, WHITE & LIOCE, P.A/ADAM GUTIN. Thank you as well to our breakfast sponsor, Dunkin’ Juno Beach. We extend our gratitude for keeping us fueled while we keep our beaches clean! See you at 8:30 a.m. on the back deck of LMC! Let us know if you plan on joining by registering on

9th Annual Run 4 The Sea – June 20, 2020

Enjoy running along the scenic A1A at the 9th Annual Run 4 The Sea and support Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s mission of sea turtle and ocean conservation! This timed four-mile race begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 20, and is open to runners and walkers. Register as an individual or join with a corporate team, club or a group of friends!

Race participants are invited to stay and enjoy the post-race celebration with breakfast, vendors, music, kids’ activities and more! Runner gift bags and finisher medals are given to ALL participants.

Rally Your Runners – This much loved local race is a great opportunity to get together with your friends, gym buds, co-workers – whomever! Teams are easy to create so invite your friends to run oceanside for sea turtle and ocean conservation.

Virtual Run – Can’t make it to Run 4 the Sea 2020? You can still support LMC and earn a race medal and t-shirt by participating as a virtual runner. Plus, you’re given the flexibility to run anywhere at any time you desire. There are no age limits or restrictions on how you clock your virtual four-mile run! You do not have to submit your time, but please feel free to share a photo on LMC’s Facebook event page. Medals and t-shirts will be mailed in July to all virtual run participants.

Prices Increase After March 18
Two Weeks Left – Register Today!
Four-Mile Run: $40
One-Mile Kid’s Fun Run: $15
Virtual Run: $35

What’s New in Rehab?

The hospital team is excited to introduce you to our new Associate Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Max Polyak. Dr. Max Polyak has a dynamic background and has already seamlessly become part of our team under the direction of Dr. Charles Manire. Dr. Max was born and raised in coastal San Diego, grew up surrounded by ocean life and has cultivated a life-long passion for marine conservation. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, graduate school at Cambridge University, and veterinary school at the University of Florida, where he also undertook intensive training in Aquatic Animal Medicine. He has practiced and taught marine animal medicine and conservation to veterinary and marine biology students in Costa Rica, Belize, the Maldives, Ecuador and Thailand.

Prior to veterinary school, Dr. Max founded and led a biotech company focused on developing novel advances in organ transplantation. This led to the invention and approval of the world’s first artificial life support system for organs awaiting transplant. More recently, Dr. Max served as Medical Director of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, the largest new world monkey sanctuary in North America. There, he was responsible for the transfer and care of the “FDA Boys,” the very first animals of any species retired by the FDA to a sanctuary. Because of his firm establishment in both human and veterinary medicine, he frequently serves as a regulatory consultant to biotech firms and served on the courtesy faculty at UF’s School of Medicine surgery department.  

Dr. Max is currently very active in collaborating on a new Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Alliance, based in the Maldives, which will facilitate the growth of sea turtle rehab facilities with specialized veterinary expertise. Dr. Max is excited to join the LMC family to help build upon clinical sea turtle medicine, clinical research and global partnerships.

March Madness Takes on Another Meaning for LMC as Sea Turtle Nesting Season Officially Begins

Our research team began daily nesting surveys on March 1 along Juno, Jupiter & Tequesta beaches. However, we found our first leatherback nest for the 2020 season on February 28! This is the third earliest nest laid within our 9.5-mile survey area in the history of Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The earliest we’ve recorded on our beaches was on February 24 in 2016. So far we have a total of three leatherback nests!

Adopt a Nest is Back!

You can support Loggerhead Marinelife Center by “adopting” a sea turtle nest for $150. For the months of March – October, loggerhead, leatherback and green Sea turtle nests that are monitored on our 9.5-miles of shore in Juno Beach, Jupiter and Tequesta. At the end of the nesting season (around October), adopters will receive an email update on their nest.

March Spring Break Seasonal Camp Registration is LIVE!

Looking to get your kids outside while they are off from school? Register your aspiring scientists to follow in the footsteps of our marine biologist staff members! They’ll learn first-hand the journey of our sea turtle patients during their recovery and will take on conservation tools to make sure no sea turtles get injured on their watch. All seasonal camp days correspond with The School District of Palm Beach County school calendar.

Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Age: 6 – 10

Kids Fishing Program

Participants will learn basic fishing techniques, including knot tying, casting, species identification, and proper release protocols. Kids will also discover conservation measures such as habitat protection, sea turtle rescue and the importance of recycling monofilament fishing line. 

Participants will leave as knowledgeable and responsible anglers!

Cost: $10
Ages: 7 – 12 years old

To register for your desired date, please visit:

Volunteer Spotlight

It is no secret that the Operations Department has been hard at work this month! And it has required a band of relentless staff and volunteers to get the job done. Because of the extreme effort that has gone into current campus projects, this month and the next, we want to honor our irreplaceable operations volunteers! Bob Carroll has been a volunteer with us since October 2019. Not only does he maintain the most positive attitude and sense of humor, regardless of the project he’s assisting with, but Bob has already contributed 115+ hours volunteering at LMC in four short months. He volunteers not just once, but twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is truly no project too large for him and we’re grateful to have him as part of our volunteer community!

Mascot Corner: Fletch’s New Friend Pip!

Hello Friends,

Fletch here, the lovable and huggable mascot for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC). Last week, the Sea Turtle Gazette newspaper had the following front-page headline “Fletch has a new mascot friend at LMC, Pip!” Please read the Sea Turtle Gazette article for Pip’s turtley awesome story. 

Sea Turtle Gazette Article

Pip’s life began when a female sea turtle dug a nest and laid her eggs on Juno Beach, Florida. Pip’s mother was a dedicated sea turtle who laid her nest high up on the beach to prevent erosion from rough seas. She returned to the ocean after carefully placing her eggs in the nest and covering them up with sand. The eggs incubated in the nest for 53 days before they hatched. Many of Pip’s siblings made it to the ocean, and eventually to the floating sargassum beds several miles offshore, where they would spend many years before venturing out on their own. But unfortunately, Pip was disoriented on the beach due to lights shining from a nearby building.

Sea turtles crawl in the direction of the brightest light and can become disoriented when lights are near the beach. Pip thought the ocean was west of where he emerged but was wrong and wound up in the dune vegetation. Pip became exhausted from crawling around on the beach and decided to take a break from his attempts to find his ocean home. Later in the morning, a kind beach walker found Pip near the dunes and carefully placed him in a container with damp sand to bring the hatchling to the Sea Turtle Hospital at LMC.

Upon arrival, Pip received fluids at the Veterinary Hospital from LMC’s rehabilitation team. The little hatchlings swimming abilities were tested and hospital staff decided Pip was a strong swimmer, regardless of his challenging start at life. Pip was then placed in the hospital’s outdoor hatchling tank with the other baby sea turtles. He was a celebrity from day one, as guests snapped many photos of this energetic and playful sea turtle in his hatchling tank.

After some time, it was decided that all of the Center’s hatchlings were strong and ready to go back to the ocean. Pip suddenly felt very sad at the thought that he wouldn’t be able to share the turtles’ knowledge of ocean conservation with the human hatchlings of the world! Pip decided to stay behind and educate LMC visitors to help save all of the other sea turtles in the ocean. Pip will return home one day, but in the meantime keep an eye out for this friendly sea turtle at Loggerhead Marinelife Center!

Stop and say hello if you see Pip at the Center! Pip loves high flipper-fives or low flipper-fives, flipper bumps and hugs from guests. So, don’t be shy when Pip is around. He loves to take pictures with guests for that special selfie moment!  

Pip, welcome to your new home away from home!

Shop Where it Counts

From EcoVessel we have a Loggerhead Marinelife Center branded water bottle. The Boulder Insulated Water Bottle is tough enough to take your hot or cold beverage anywhere: the trails, beach, golf course or to the office.  

Use EcoVessel’s revolutionary tea, fruit and ice strainer to infuse any drink. It also includes an effective ice dam to keep those ice cubes away from your pearly whites.

Get Involved

Join LMC’s Blue Friends Society – have fun and meet like-minded friends!
The Blue Friends Society of Loggerhead Marinelife Center is an active social group of ocean conservation enthusiasts and LMC supporters who network, educate, plan and promote conservation. Become a member of this dynamic networking social group of ocean conservationists! The Blue Friends Society hosts parties, networking gatherings, beach cleanups and enjoys the beautiful outdoors! Learn more at

Blue Friends March Social
Each year our passionate Blue Friends Society members and their invited guests gather on LMC’s campus to celebrate our Center’s annual accomplishments. Our March social takes on a special meaning for our members as we will celebrate our construction progress, share updates with our campaign, and share our 2020 event schedule, which will take us through our Go Blue Awards Luncheon and up to our Center’s ribbon cutting! At the social, catering will be provided by our great friends at Sandy James! This event is complimentary for active Blue Friend Society Members; guests may join for an entry fee of $25.

Become a Member
Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Annual Fund offers our donors the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to the Center while enjoying additional and exciting benefits. A tax-deductible donation to the Annual Fund supports the operations of Loggerhead Marinelife Center and its greatest needs. Your contribution helps promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. Additionally, your contribution will enhance all the benefits that you have received since joining. Learn more at

Save the Date: Spring Circle Dinner
On April 1st, LMC will host our Springtime Circle Dinner! This year’s keynote speaker is National Geographic’s Explorer in Residence, Dr. Sylvia Earle! Dr. Earle is a past Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award Winner of our Go Blue Awards and past Go Blue Awards Luncheon Keynote speaker. Please learn more about our Circle at

Brick Pavers

Purchase a brick paver to be placed in the walkway of our new Outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital during campus expansion. The bricks can be engraved with a brief message and turtle logo. Brick designs are 8X4 with a 60 character limit, including spaces for $250 (36 characters if including a logo). 8X8 brick designs are $450 with a 120 character limit, including spaces (80 characters if including a logo).

Thank You to Our Outstanding Supporters!

Saturday March 7th Celebrating Power To Care Day at LMC!
We are excited to welcome FPL back to our campus for Power to Care Day on Saturday March 7th. From beach clean ups to mulching, passionate and generous FPL team members will volunteer at LMC to give back to their community! A powerful day on campus, this day reduces the ‘to-do’ list of our Operations Team. We are so grateful for our very long partnership with FPL, which is one of the world’s largest clean energy producers! Our thanks to FPL, our Operations and our Development Team for their great support of this popular event.

Thanks to Annie Benghiat for raising funds for LMC’s Education Department!

LMC and Princess Yachts – Fashionable Philanthropy
In conjunction with the Palm Beach International Boat Show and Palm Beach Fashion Week, LMC was selected by Palm Beach Fashion Week and Princess Yachts as the philanthropic recipient for the LVMH fashion show. We are honored to be involved with this popular event, which sold out within hours of posting and we are honored to be involved!

Waves of Progress Annual Fund Campaign – Kicking off Nesting Season:
This year, we’ve decided to revamp our annual fund campaign and launch a year-long campaign, with quarterly focus areas. With the start of nesting season just behind us, we are excited to launch this comprehensive campaign and finish our first quarter celebrating sea turtle nesting season. For our coastal neighbors, please look out for a special mailer that provides an overview of what it means to live next to one of the most densely nested loggerhead sea turtle beaches in the world! For our inland community members and global supporters, please follow along with our digital campaign through our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). We encourage you to helps us share these great reasons to support our mission with your networks so together we can make even bigger Waves of Progress!

Construction Camera – Track our Construction Progress:
As our expansion rapidly progresses we have the unique opportunity to invite our community to view our progress in real time!  This month, the second story will commence and daily new features of our campus will come into focus. For an up to the minute view of our construction progress, please visit our construction camera.