LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY (April 28, 2022 - Florida Weekly Advertorial)

Dear Friends:

Since 1983, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center has been an open-access, community-serving organization with a goal to advance ocean conservation. We just completed an expansive investment in our campus focused on science and education and are experiencing some significant growth pains. Much has been spoken and written about it. We would like to share our perspective and our plan.

First, thank you to our staff and volunteers. You have endured a lot over the past several years. From construction to the pandemic, then changes in leadership. We understand your frustration. While some have resigned or chosen to move on, we would like to recognize those who have remained. Your dedication to our cause is greatly appreciated. We are listening, accepting input, making changes, and improving communication, while recruiting new team members to assist your workload. We could not exist without you.

We currently have no turtles in our tanks. We have plenty of other marine species and educational exhibits on display, but no turtles. We had received clearance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to accept patients, but experienced some challenges with low salinity and air bubbles in our system. No turtle patients were in the tanks or harmed. We subsequently had to halt admissions and transfer our patients to partner facilities. Since that time, we have been working on a solution with a nationally recognized team of experts in water quality and engineering. We have made substantial progress and intend to seek clearance from Florida Fish and Wildlife to resume rehabilitating sea turtles soon.

In the past few weeks, we have hired many new staff members from best-in-class organizations with broad expertise in animal husbandry, life support system operations, and water quality management. This team is now overseeing all tank and aquarium system operations. We are already seeing positive changes across the board in collaborative processes and results.

Please understand our board made the decision two years ago to remain open during the construction and renovation of our campus. The alternative option was to shut our doors to the public, reduce and furlough our staff, and pause our efforts to accept sea turtle patients. Instead, we chose to remain open to the community and our government partners during this process. We wanted to ensure our team could continue its mission of research, rehabilitation, and educational programs. Yes, it was a difficult task, and yes, we have had challenges. But we believe it was the right thing to do.

In 2021 we:
• Provided rehabilitative care to 83 sea turtles
• Protected and monitored more than 15,000 nests along our shores
• Educated more than 400,000 community members, students, and tourists
• Collaborated with 100 partner organizations across six continents
• Removed 7,000 pounds of trash from our coast, much of which was plastic

Lastly, thank you to our donors. We could not have completed this expansion without you. Everything committed to our campaign has been built or will be built. This was always a two-phase project, enabling us to complete the work on the new north campus and then renovate the existing south campus. Yes, our project costs increased, but so did our scope of educational and scientific offerings.

We are very proud of what we have built for the community and encourage anyone that has questions to contact us. We are committed to transparency and our doors are open. Please join us in our mission of ocean conservation.

With gratitude,
The Board of Directors
Loggerhead Marinelife Center

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