A common theme among LMC volunteers and staff is “turtle-y obsessed.” For most of us, it only took one visit for us to fall head over heals in love with sea turtles. Many of us have been devoted to ocean conservation long before we encountered a sea turtle, but experiencing a sea turtle in person changes you. Because we are turtle-y obsessed, we can’t help but love when we hear unique stories of guests who share our turtle-y crazed passion.
As our marketing team perused the posts LMC had recently been tagged in, they stumbled upon a particularly heart-warming story of newlyweds, Rob and Maria. Traditionally, newlyweds jet set to a tropical paradise in attempts to escape everyday life and freeze time together for a few days. Other couples, like Rob and Maria Dubas, vacation to a less secluded paradise. After saying their “I Do’s” last May, the Dubas honeymooned in South Florida, when they decided to visit the center – and we are grateful that they did. After inquiring about their story, Maria shared their adventure with us (see below). Continuously, we are touched by the individuals, moved by ocean conservation, who include LMC in their special life moments.
Rob and Maria, thank you for making sea turtle conservation a part of one of your first experiences as a married couple. We are grateful for your advocacy and cannot thank you enough for sharing your story. From everyone at LMC, we wish you a turtle-y happily ever after.
And in case you were wondering… their favorite sea turtle patient is Shertz, who they’ve been rooting for and tracking on our website since they left the center.
The Dubas Visit with Sea Turtles:
When Rob and I first pulled into the parking lot and saw this sign, I was pretty darn excited. Now mind you, we were on our honeymoon, so I was already generally excited. AND, we are from Pennsylvania and had spent the previous day entirely basking on the beach and playing in the ocean waves. AND I had just discovered the deliciousness of Cuban food. Thus, raising my level of excitement was an impressive feat.
I should clarify, though, that we weren’t excited to visit for the same reasons that someone might be excited to visit an amusement park or even visit a new city. Both Rob and I are something of science nerds and passionate about conservation. For us, visiting this place was a way to support local wildlife and the volunteers who spend countless hours protecting them. It was a way for me to see and understand just how much of an impact we can have on marine life—both positive and negative. I also was eager to see their educational displays and interact with their volunteers since my career is based in informal science education as well. Essentially, I was excited for a new perspective and firsthand educational experience, and I was not disappointed.
As we first wandered out to the treatment tanks, we met one of the volunteers (so sorry…tall, thin, older gentleman, name tag said he was from Columbus OH but he said he mostly grew up elsewhere). He chatted with us for quite a while, giving us the backstories on all of the different turtles currently being cared for. We learned of the different species currently at the center, and he shared the history of each patient. A wealth of information!
Over the course of the morning, we visited each turtle, read up on the different threats wild sea turtles face, and moved on to the aquaria and displays inside. I think we tested the maximum memory spaces for our cameras!
The more time we spent at Loggerhead MarineLife Center, the more impressed I became about how inclusive it was. We saw young families, older couples, little ones in strollers, a school group tour, and even a special needs adult group—all able to view and learn about fantastic marine creatures. The indoor educational displays were informative and interactive, and volunteers everywhere were smiling and ready to jump in with a fun fact.
The best part about the Loggerhead MarineLife Center, though, was the direct work they do with sea turtles. When we had been at the beach the previous day, we saw volunteers picking up trash. At the facility, we saw vet staff working expertly with their different patients, and all of the full tanks indicated the need for folks to care for injured turtles. It was an experience to see.
Overall, we had a great time visiting, and are so thankful for all the hard work of everyone at the Loggerhead MarineLife Center!