As you drive into Navarre Beach Marine Park, you are greeted by a colorful, eye-catching mural of sea turtles. The mural serves not only to beautify the entrance to the park, but also to identify the location of the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservatory. Completed by local artist Chuck Chunn on a voluntary basis, the mural also embodies the spirit of the center, which is fully staffed by volunteers who are passionate about the cause.
Spreading awareness and helping turtles with life threatening injuries is the focus of the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. All seven types of sea turtles are endangered and four of them frequent the Navarre Beach area. Visitors can take a break from the sun for a bit to enjoy educational and entertaining programs at the facility or even to do some local shopping.
The gift shop, affectionately called the Seamore Store, features beautiful art work and jewelry created by local artists along with gifts for children and literature about sea turtles. Also, inside the center are activities for visitors, especially younger ones, to enjoy including a very realistic nesting bay and life-size art of four types of sea turtles that will allow you to see how you compare in size.
On Wednesday July 20, 2016 the NBSTCC received our permanent resident sea turtle after much anticipation. Our new sea turtle is an adult female loggerhead that was deemed non-releasable by Florida Fish and Wildlife. She was found stranded in November 1998 in a debilitated state near St. Augustine. She was rehabilitated at SeaWorld and found to be completely blind which had led to her poor condition upon rescue from the wild. It is unknown what caused her blindness, but it is certain that she would not be able to survive in the wild without the ability to forage for food or evade predators. She has been cared for by SeaWorld ever since, for over 17 years. There she learned how to eat with the help of her care takers and adapted well to her environment using her other senses. The NBSTCC was presented this turtle during our search for a match for our facility. After speaking with SeaWorld staff, we realized she was the perfect match for us. So the process of starting her journey to Navarre Beach began. Her transport from Orlando and introduction to her habitat went very well. She has settled in very nicely and seems very calm and relaxed in her new environment. We are eager to open to the public after the sea turtle’s acclimation period, which will be around 1-2 weeks. We will be making an announcement of our opening day as soon as we have it planned. So without further delay the Navarre Sea Turtle Conservation Center is proud to officially introduce our resident sea turtle named “Gigi.” She is named in loving memory of our longtime friend, supporter, and also a pioneer in sea turtle conservation Gigi Naggatz. We cannot wait to have Gigi the loggerhead become our ambassador for our local sea turtle conservation efforts. We want to thank each and every one of you for your support over the years to get us to this point. The NBSTCC also wants to thank the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and SeaWorld for their unwavering support and generosity as they welcomed us into the community of sea turtle conservation centers. Our mission is to educate our community and visitors and share our passion for protecting these beautiful animals. We hope that by providing the opportunity to see Gigi the loggerhead up close you too can help us provide sea turtles with more tomorrows.
Check out navarrebeachseaturtles.org to learn more about the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.
Tuesday 10 am to 4 pm
Wednesday Noon to 4 pm
Thursday 10 am to 4 pm
Friday Noon to 4 pm
Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
Admission is $5
$4 for military and seniors (65+)
lil’ hatchlings two and under are free!
School groups and special events are hosted by reservation on Wednesday and Friday of each week. If you are interested please contact us at (850) 499-6774.
Photo by www.jonmonfishimagery.com