STUART, Fla. - The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center has welcomed its newest residents, Turt and Verdy!
Turt is an endangered green sea turtle and comes from Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno. Beach. He was treated there after being struck by a boat.
Rodger White, the aquarium and life support manager at Florida Oceanographic says, "The boat went across his back and the prop scarred his spine and his spinal cord and it damaged his rear flippers."
Turt is an eager guy, and has been getting comfy in his new home. White says, "He climbed up over the wall and escaped out into the main lagoon. When he did it, it was amazing!."
A very curious turtle, he has been exploring his new 750 thousand gallon home and it's full of other friendly neighbors.
"He found the sharks fascinating and he would come up behind them and grab them by the tail. He would nudge them and they would get all upset and swim off and he would just think it's a game, a party," White says.
Verdy, a hawksbill turtle that cannot use his back flippers, has a buoyancy issue. He has special weights tied to his shell to help him get around.
These turtles cannot survive in the wild .....so they'll call the Coastal Center their permanent home. Now that the center has gotten the OK from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Center, they look forward to bringing more turtles to the party.
"We're in hopes of probably in the next year of being able to see at about ten different sea turtle out here. We're one of three facilities in the state as far as assisted living facilities for non releasables, once they come here, this is their home for the rest of their life," White says.
So the turtles' new role... as educators of curious adults and children.
Charlene and Bryce Owens come to the Coastal Center all the time and Bryce loves it. "She (the trainer) was trying to pet the turtle. I thought that was pretty awesome because I always wanted to do that stuff."
The month of October has been designated turtle celebration days by the society. For more information on visiting the Coastal Center in Stuart, check their website.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company