Updates on Sea Turtle Rehab
Sea Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation & Release Program Transition
*Please Note: The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center remains OPEN. Only the Sea Turtle Rehab Program and its related facility areas in the Nature Center are temporarily closed.
The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and the Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards (formerly known as the Friends of Gumbo Limbo) have had a long-standing relationship to preserve our coasts and provide support to our marine ecosystems in Boca Raton. As part of their commitment to conservation efforts, the Coastal Stewards have provided ongoing financial support for the equipment, programming, transportation, food, and veterinary care to the Sea Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program (STR). Between the financial support and awareness efforts of the Coastal Stewards, and the dedication of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center staff, the STR program, has grown tremendously, attracting national and international attention and thousands of visitors to the Nature Center annually.
As the STR program grew, so did the investment by the Coastal Stewards, funding nearly all the program's animal care and veterinary operations. When the STR program evolved beyond the scope of traditional government services, the City and the Coastal Stewards agreed to transition the STR program to the non-profit, which has the fundraising capabilities, membership, flexibility, and creativity to operate, manage, and grow the program at the Nature Center.
In the interest of continuity of care for the endangered turtles while administrative transition details are finalized, our sea turtle patients and residents have been temporarily relocated to partnering sea turtle facilities where they will continue their treatment and proper care. During this time, a new $3.2 million seawater pump project will begin operating at the Nature Center. This seawater infrastructure project will enhance the rehabilitation efforts and improve other aquarium ecosystems as well. We look forward to welcoming our resident sea turtles back home and resuming rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts as soon as possible.
As always, we appreciate your support and patience as we continue through this journey together to further our mission of coastal conservation and education.
Where are the sea turtles?
As part of the transition of our Sea Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release Program (STR) to the Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards, our sea turtle patients and residents have been relocated to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Zoo Miami and the Florida Oceanographic Society, where they will continue to receive their treatment and proper care.
When will the sea turtles come back?
We hope to have our resident turtles back as soon as possible. Our current patients will be provided with outstanding care at the facilities where they were transported and will hopefully be released back into their natural habitat depending on their condition. Once the transition is complete, rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts will resume at our facility and the STR program will begin to accept new patients.
We will keep our patrons informed with the latest updates and information. In the meantime, we invite you to check out the other great areas of the Nature Center including the trails, gopher tortoises, aquariums, butterfly garden and exhibits.
Why were the sea turtles relocated?
As part of the transition, a new Marine Turtle, Fish and Wildlife permit needs to be issued under the new leadership. Without the permit, the STR cannot accept and treat sea turtle patients. Once, the transition is completed and a permit is issued, our resident sea turtles will return to our facility and STR operations will resume.
Will the rehab facility at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center reopen? Will it stay at Gumbo Limbo?
Yes. The STR program will resume operations at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in the same facility once the transition is complete. Under the new leadership of the Coastal Stewards, we look forward to the success of the program at Gumbo Limbo and Coastal Stewards operation of the program for many years to come.
Who are the Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards?
Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards is a non-profit organization that provides all the funding for equipment, medications, food, and all operations of the sea turtle rehab. They are formerly known as the Friends of Gumbo Limbo and have a decades long partnership with the City. More information can be found on their website.
Why are they taking over the sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and release program?
Over the past few years, the STR has evolved outside the scope of traditional government services. The City and the Coastal Stewards agreed to transition the STR program to the non-profit, which has the fundraising capabilities, membership, flexibility, and creativity to operate, manage and grow the program at the Nature Center.
What other marine life can I see at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center?
Housed under beautiful pavilions constructed with wooden beams and green metal roofs, the Nature Center has four saltwater aquariums that represent different Southeast Florida marine habitats. The aquariums feature local organisms, naturalistic habitats, and viewing from all sides. The two shallow aquariums represent the coastal mangrove community and a nearshore reef. The two deeper aquariums represent a tropical coral reef and an artificial reef/shipwreck. More information can be found on our webpage.
I found a hatchling or an injured sea turtle. Can I still call or bring hatchlings to the Nature Center's dropbox?
Yes. For injured sea turtles, you can call the 24-Hour Sea Turtle Rescue Hotline. In addition, the hatchling cooler at the Nature Center entrance will be checked by staff. Visit our Strandlings webpage for more information.
What other activities are available at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center?
For more information about the many activities, programs and exhibits to enjoy, please visit our Plan Your Visit webpage and Programs, Events & Outreach webpage.