Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Jekyll Island, GA

In May of 2007, Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened in its brand new location - the renovated power company building in the Historic District on Jekyll Island. It is a hospital and rehab facility for sick and injured turtles. This is Macaroni, half under a towel on the exam table. He was hit by a car, was left with a hind leg dangling that had to be amputated, and the vet techs are cleaning the wound.

This plaster cast of a prehistoric turtle skeleton greets you in the lobby/gift shop. Adults weigh hundreds of pounds and take 35 years to reach maturity.

Exhibits are appropriate for both children and adults to learn about the life cycle of the giant sea turtle. The nesting season runs from May-August. During that time, residents are asked to keep their lights out. As the hatchlings emerge from their nests on the beach, they instinctively head for the brightest light, which should be the horizon over the sea, where they need to get to. They can get confused by artificial light.

Volunteers routinely check nests after the hatchlings have emerged. They count the egg shells and sometimes find stragglers. Nine years ago, they found two such stragglers and brought them to the Center, and named them Bob and Dylan. Dylan was kept as a mascot to be used for educational purposes. Bob was released. Now, the Center is preparing to release Dylan, probably next spring. In the interim, he is being prepared to live on his own, getting his own food, etc., to be able to survive without humans. Here he is coming to the surface to take a breath.

He will have a chance to live the life he was meant to live and will be tracked by a satellite transponder. Track other turtles and even adopt one at www.seaturtle.org.

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