It's open today ! I wanted to see the Sea Turtle Center last year but was unable due to the limited holiday schedule. This year, I was in luck.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened in 2007 as a sea turtle hospital and rehabilitation facility. But it is also a research institution and classroom, and the only center of its kind in the state. The building is the original Jekyll Island Club Powerplant built in 1903.
The first thing I noticed was a giant turtle painted onto the walkway in front of the building. This same turtle design is also painted on the nearby roadway every so many feet with line paint. That way, you can follow the turtles painted on the road to the center. Great idea.
Sea Turtles are a big deal in Jekyll Island, and around coastal Georgia as a whole. The nests are protected when found. The areas roadways are designed with sea turtle migration in mind. Injured or stranded sea turtles can be reported to the Highway Patrol who will get them to the center for treatment. The center's mission is one of conservation of and education about all things sea turtle and the coastal marsh ecosystem in general.
But first and foremost, it is a functioning high-tech hospital. A presentation had just started when I arrived. One of the hospital's patients was doing a meet-and-greet with a group of kids.
I believe this patient's name was Harbor.
Harbor was brought to the center after an unfortunate encounter with a boat.
The injuries sustained were pretty severe, bad enough for Harbor to be classified as a "non-releasable" patient.
Harbor will spend the remainder of his/her days at the center doing PR Duty when needed.
This wing of the center also features several animal display tanks similar to the one shown above.
But the main attraction is the giant window into one of the hospital operating rooms.
Like Harbor described above, this particular patient was also the victim of a boat strike.
Today's treatment involved having the wounds cleaned and bandages replaced.
This patient looked to be handling a doctor's visit the way we as humans do.
The look of "hurry up and get this over with !" was quite pronounced.
A feeding demonstration was scheduled in the rehab wing of the hospital. I headed over to check it out and passed this outdoor enclosure on the way.
Since the turtles don't carry I.D., the numbering system seems to be a good idea.
The rehabilitation wing of the hospital is filled with several tanks. Some were very small like the one shown above.
Some tanks were quite large. Depending on the specific species, sea turtles can reach several feet in length and weigh more than 500 pounds.
First inside the door was Tethys, a Green Sea Turtle who arrived at the hospital after being stranded and floating abnormally.
Each occupied tank had the name of the patient and an information sheet attached.
Next to Tethys was Neptune, another Green Sea Turtle who arrived at the hospital for the same reason as Tethys.
The black object attached to both Tethys' and Neptune's shells is a pouch where weights can be attached to allow the turtle to float/dive/balance more easily while under treatment. Weights are added or removed as treatment progresses.
This tank contained several hatchlings.
Sea turtle hatchlings don't have the best odds of survival in the wild, (something like 1 in 4,000 ?).
This tank was occupied by Goose, a Loggerhead Sea Turtle.
Seems like that name would cause an identity crisis.
Goose didn't seem to be bothered, though.
The first thing you notice about Goose is his/her size ! I asked one of the technicians how many people were needed to lift Goose. She said usually 4, because Goose weighs 100 pounds.
Before heading to my next destination, I got to see the previously mentioned feeding demonstration.
Palmer was about to enjoy some lunch and seemed pretty excited about the idea.
On the menu for today was a selection of seafood (squid, shrimp, and fish), and vegetables (cucumbers, green peppers, and leafy greens).
This was apparently quite tasty.
This was a great stop ! The staff of the center seemed to focus on education. They were good teachers and were more than willing to answer questions. But now I've got two more places to see. So it's on to the next