Say you’re out on a friend’s boat in the ocean. You see something on the surface, and it’s moving. As you edge closer, you see that it’s a turtle, possibly a Green Turtle, or maybe even a Hawksbill. You’re all smiles until your friend points out that something’s wrong. Then you see it. The turtle’s right front flipper is mangled, or its shell has a serious gash. Who ya gonna call?
It turns out we have just the place not far away in Ponce Inlet — the Turtle ICU at the Marine Science Center. We finally ventured into this small facility and were thrilled to find we could view the ICU. On this particular day there were 11 turtles in the ICU for rehabilitation, 7 of which were juvenile Green Turtles, and 2 that were subadult Loggerheads. Most were under care for propeller wounds.
Injured Juvenile Green Sea Turtle in the ICU Rehabilitation Tanks
More Rehabilitation Tanks in the Turtle ICU
We ventured inside, paid the $5 entrance fee, and roamed around the small center. First we checked out the classroom, where they hold summer camp teaching kids about sea creatures great and small. ( I wish we had had such camps when I was a kid!)
Matt watching a video in the Marine Science Center classroom
The educational displays are fun also. The Freshwater Habitat Exhibit contains Yellowbelly Slider turtles, Peninsula Cooter turtles and Chicken Turtles. The Red Devil Cichlid, Suckermouth Catfish, Blue Gill and Florida Gar swim around the tank as well. But it’s the turtles that seek out all the attention from observers.
Attention-seeking freshwater turtles --photo by Matt O'Neill
Another display that naturally caught our attention was the shark display. Here we learned that the Black Tip Shark is the most common shark found around the Ponce Inlet area, and the source of all those ankle bites.
Shark Exhibit at the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet --photo by Matt O'Neill
The Center may be small, but it is definitely educational. And the Turtle ICU is worth seeing several times, whether you’re a resident, or a visitor. This is true Florida at its best.