JUNO BEACH, Fla. — The Loggerhead Marinelife Center has had no turtles for six weeks, and one of its interim leaders said it will likely be without them for the summer.
Visitors can see sharks and tropical fish at the facility, but the 26 empty tanks for loggerheads and other sea turtles needing rehabilitation remain empty.
"We're going to see turtles when we have a veterinary staff on board, and we can assure the fish and wildlife service that we can deliver consistent water quality," Bob Weisman, former Palm Beach County administrator, said.
Weisman is the co-chair of an independent committee looking to find a new chief executive and replace veterinary staffers who resigned at the beginning of May.
"It's hard to get veterinary staff," Weisman said. "There's not a lot of veterinarians with turtle experience."
Weisman came aboard when Loggerhead CEO Kyle Van Houtan resigned abruptly May 3 after months of turmoil involving staff turnover, low morale and water quality problems that kept the turtle tanks empty.
"This organization went through different types of trauma over the past few months," Weisman acknowledged. "Our reputation has only been hurt on a short-time basis. I think over a relatively short period of time we're going to get back to normal."
Normalcy at the facility would include tanks with recovering turtles, and the breathtaking sights of rehabbed loggerheads heading back into the Atlantic Ocean.
"It's my goal. It might be optimistic, but I'll be doing my job well if get the veterinary staff hired," Weisman said. "[We would like to get] the approval from the fish and wildlife service to have turtles here before the end of the summer."