When you think of Florida wildlife the first thing that comes to mind is probably the alligator, Florida’s state reptile. But there is another reptile wanting and needing attention: sea turtles. Florida’s shorelines are some of the densest nesting areas for sea turtles. There are several key species that live in Florida waters: Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Kemps Ridley and Hawksbill. Ecotourism is growing in popularity and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in sea turtle conservation. The idea of making a positive contribution to the environment while on your vacation trip is brilliant.

The Loggerhead turtle is slow in speed but strong in stamina. Loggerheads can be seen at a variety of nature centers up and down Florida’s east coast. They have a long nesting season from May to October. The Green turtle is mostly vegetarian and can be found in shallow waters during the day. At night they sleep on reefs, oyster bars or rock ledges. At one time in history this turtle was sought after as food for turtle soup and thousands were shipped annually to Europe. The Green turtle nests from June through late September. (For a fabulous day trip hop with Bahamas Air Tours  and spend the day swimming with the Green turtles. This adventure will give you a new perspective and love for sea turtles).

Bahamas Day Trip swim with Turtles
These beautiful turtles live in the water surrounding Florida and the Bahamas

The Leatherback turtle is huge, weighing up to 1,500 pounds! It has great stamina and can swim up to 3,000 miles from its nesting place. It thrives on eating jelly fish. In Florida there are only 30-60 nesting Leatherbacks in a given year. The Kemp’s Ridley turtle is the rarest turtle in the world and highest on the endangered turtle list. It is a small turtle weighing under 100 pounds. There is only one known nesting site on the Gulf coast of Mexico. These turtles can be seen on Florida’s Gulf coast, but have also been seen as far north as Nova Scotia. The Hawksbill turtle has a beautiful carapace that has been sought after to make jewelry and ornaments. This practice has been banned the world over but the practice still continues. This tropical sea turtle is found in bays, reefs and lagoons, especially around Key West.

In Florida, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is one of many places to learn about and participate in sea turtle conservation. Watch freshly hatched baby sea turtles emerge from the sand and head to the sea. Not your normal vacation, but an exciting one that can make a difference in the world’s endangered sea turtle populations. Come to the beach and help save the endangered sea turtle. There are many other places to see sea turtles along the Florida coast. The best way to do it is by joining a “turtle walk”. These evening walks take about 2 hours and you will walk 1-2 miles in the sand. Places that offer these walks can be found in Dania Beach, Melbourne Beach, Vero Beach and Palm Beach. There is also The Turtle Hospital at mile marker 48.5 on the Overseas Highway. There are many ways to see turtles and get involved in conservation.

Rehabilitation Center. Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Rehabilitation Tanks at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center

While in Florida, consider a day trip with Bahamas Air Tours to the pristine islands of the Bahamas. There you can swim with Green turtles – get up close a personal. There is nothing quite like it! Many other adventures await you. Florida and the Bahamas make a perfect duo.

World Class Turtle Sanctuary: Loggerhead Marinelife Center

On beaches around the world turtles come ashore and dig a deep hole to lay their eggs. The nest is covered back over with sand for time and biology to take its course when the baby sea turtles hatch and crawl out of the sand to find their way to the ocean to begin their life at sea. A fantastic Palm Beach attraction is the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is on the endangered species list and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is dedicated to preserving precious habitat and nesting areas as well as helping the Loggerhead Sea Turtle have a greater chance of survival.

Loggerhead Marine Life Center Turtle hospital.
Loggerhead Marine Life Center Hospital Surgical Suit

The Loggerhead Turtle is huge as turtles go. They can weigh up to 350 pounds and reach a length of three feet. The carapace, or top shell, is reddish brown in color. The plastron, or under shell is yellow. The turtle gets its name from its “log-sized” head. The nesting season is from March to October in Palm Beach. Things to do in south Florida include the once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness the hatchlings emerge and crawl to the sea. A female nests only once every two years, laying about 4 clutches of eggs – one every 14 days. The average clutch is about 100 eggs. The baby sea turtles are just 2 inches long. The Palm Beach area is a high density nesting area so it makes sense a marine center would be situated here. An interesting factoid: Florida hosts 90% of the Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas; 20% of that is in five counties on the east coast including Palm Beach County.

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a terrific Florida resource and one of many fabulous things to do in Palm Beach. This resource was started by Eleanor Fletcher who owned property on Juno Beach, one of the most active Loggerhead Turtle nesting sites. Currently, this beach has over 11,100 loggerhead turtle nests, 7,250 green turtle nests and 97 leatherback turtle nests. Multiple each nest by 100 and you get a whole lot of baby sea turtles hatching during the season. At the time, Fletcher was probably one of only a handful of people that were dedicated to sea turtle conservation. She determined to educate children about the Loggerhead Turtle and began holding conservation classes in her home. When the group of children grew larger, she moved the classes to her realty office. In 1983 the Children’s Museum was incorporated. By 1990 it had expanded and was renamed the Marinelife Center of Juno Beach. In 2007 it moved to a new “green” facility and changed its name one more time to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The center, located north of Palm Beach, is a popular destination for school aged children who enjoy the Loggerhead campus through field trips, day camps, and outreach programs, such wonderful things to do in Palm Beach.

Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Field trips and day camps for kids at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

Sea Turtle Conservation

The Marinelife Center is one of 12 located in Florida. They have a large rehabilitation program. Typically the turtles are brought in by someone from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Loggerhead Sea Turtles are just one species attended to by the Center. Others include Leatherback and Green Turtles. On occasion the Center may see Kemps Ridley or Hawksbill turtles. The turtles are brought in to the Center because they have been injured and appear ill or of failing health. If you should discover an injured or ailing sea turtle report it to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center as soon as possible. Do not attempt to rescue or touch the turtle. Heroic efforts without the scientific background can potentially harm the turtle further. Remember, they are a wild animal and they do bite.

Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Research activities by the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

Research activities are ongoing at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. In fact, they have the longest running turtle monitoring program in Florida. They study a variety of areas including sand compaction, nesting counts, sand and nest temperatures, beach re-nourishment, shorebird surveys and nighttime surveys. All the data is collected and studied to gain valuable information that may help save the sea turtle populations. The Center has the largest data set in the world with data collected from 1979 to present day.

Loggerhead turtle rehabilitation and conservation. Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Loggerhead turtle rehabilitation activities by the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

One of the current patients is a Green Turtle named Rudder. He was found on Palm Beach with damage to his carapace and rear flippers. He also has some intestinal issues. His injuries were most likely caused by a boat propeller that not only damaged his shell, but the underlying organs as well. Rudder has been at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center since September 2016. He is doing well and progressing. Rudder has been on antibiotics to fight an infection and has had his wounds cleansed and treated with honey on a daily basis. There are about 11 other patients at the Center with Rudder. As turtles are released back into the ocean they are fitted with a Wildlife Computers satellite transmitter so they can be tracked. At the Center’s website you can actually follow some of the turtles that are still wearing the monitoring devices, just another of the fun, interesting things to do in Palm Beach.

Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
“Rudder” the Green Turtle under care at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

There are several exciting programs offered at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. For starters, things to do in South Florida include Eco-Adventures. These are great opportunities to explore the various ecosystems of Southern Florida and help protect and maintain critical habitat.

There are also Summer Beach programs which include three areas: Turtle Walks, Biologist Beach Walks, and Hatchling Releases. It is a remarkable way to see these sea creatures in their natural habitat. Gain knowledge and learn about sea turtle conservation and ways you can help.

If you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, they can always use help with beach cleanup. Held on specific Saturdays each month all year long, this is an ideal way to learn about habitat, conservation and fighting pollution.

Beach Clean up for turtle conservation. Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Beach Clean up activities organised by the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

During the month of August you can participate in the Hatchling Release program. Thirty people per night are guided on a special tour of the Center including a presentation about turtles. Then toward the end of the evening the group will head to the beach and watch baby sea turtles released into the ocean by trained staff. Talk about things to do in Palm Beach! This program fills up quickly. It is suggested you purchase tickets in advance. Be mindful, children under 8 cannot attend.

Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Hatch-lings released by the Loggerhead Marine Life Center

Turtles have been hunted for centuries for their meat and shells. They are still part of cultural ceremonies in some countries. In the U.S. however, it is illegal to catch a sea turtle. Efforts along the nation’s shores have been put in place to promote sea turtle conservation, save sea turtles and other precious sea life. These conservation centers along the Florida coastline are a testament to the commitment by Florida residents and government to be active conservationists.

Things to do in West Palm Beach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center conservation
Divers carryout clean up activities underwater to remove harmful litter and waste

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is located just outside West Palm Beach at 14200 U.S. Hwy 1, Juno Beach, FL 33408, USA

Swim with Turtles in the Bahamas

What could be better than swimming with wild turtles in the Bahamas? Now only a 1 hour flight from Florida to the Bahamas on a Bahamas Day Trip you can discover these majestic animals. With a lively population of Green Turtles in the Abacos Islands, swimming with Turtles is now an even more accessible activity, perfect for special occasions, honeymoons or weekend gertaways. 

Bahamas Day Trip swim with Turtles
Swim with turtles in the Bahamas

Turtle Themed Resort on Singer Island

While on your ecotour, consider staying at The Marriott Singer Island. This popular Palm Beach resort has committed to active participation in the conservation of sea turtles, particularly Loggerheads. The resort is in close proximity to Loggerhead turtle nesting areas resulting in an overarching theme sea turtle theme at the resort. The resort offers stunning views of the ocean and the beach. These views are mesmerizing and make a connection to the shore where the turtles will make their annual pilgrimage.

Marriott Singer Island, things to do in West Palm Beach
Rooms at the Marriott Singer Island

The tropical décor is colorful and playful as each room has a plush stuffed turtle. These cute turtles are for sale with all the proceeds going to the sea turtle conservation programs at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The Loggerhead Sea Turtles have a nesting area very close to the Marriott Singer Island. Volunteers are always needed for the other conservation activities on such as a monthly beach cleanup. Locals and visitors alike comb the beach for trash and items that are harmful to the wildlife. Conservation activities are neat things to in south Florida because it has meaning for our environment and ultimately the whole world.

This Palm Beach resort offers plenty of things to do in Palm Beach starting right at their private beach. Nature awaits – enjoy a beautiful morning walk on the beach and do some beach combing. Take a snorkeling tour on the reef just steps into the water. There are plenty of water sports available such as paddle boarding, diving, jet skiing, boating and more. The friendly concierge is available to help you make the necessary arrangements. There are also cabanas and chairs to rent on the private beach where you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the water, white sand and sun.

Turtle eggs are laid along the beach at the Marriott Singer ISland resort. Visit the Loggerhead Turtles at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in West Palm Beach
Turtle eggs are laid along the beach at the Marriott Singer Island resort

Other outdoor venues and experiences at the Marriott Singer Island include an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a remarkable lagoon pool and water slide complete with waterfalls and grottos. For those days you need a break from the sun, how about a visit to the lavish SiSpa, a full service spa right at your fingertips. From facials to scrubs, nail treatments to massage the SiSpa is a place of relaxation, renewal and rejuvenation. The Marriott offers so many things to do in Palm Beach.

In keeping with the turtle conservation theme, the Marriott Singer Island offers other activities that seek to make its patrons more aware of the plight of the turtles and trains people what to

There is a remarkable Turtle Nest Information Walk. Guests are brought to an active turtle nest along the beach and given information about the different types of turtles and their hatching periods. Much like the build-a-bear craze, on Singer Island Florida, children can build-a-turtle. This is a wonderful way to teach your children about turtles and help them connect with nature. The Turtle Race is where the children crawl on the sand as turtles using ping pong balls to fill their “nest”. And, finally the Turtle Beading Necklace activity allows kids to design a necklace using a turtle charm. Not only will these activities be fun, but they will teach children about turtles and conservation and they will bring home a memento or two. These activities will build memories for your children and are just part of the many Palm Beach attractions.

Other activities on Singer Island include hiking and biking trails; the MacArthur Beach State Park; Phil Foster Park; and the City Beach. The will never be a question about things to do in South Florida at a place such as this. It is rich in nature, history, art and culture.

Conservation Vacation: A Day in the Sun that Pays it Forward

Going green, environmentally friendly and conservation are hot topics and very trendy. It’s time to plan a vacation with meaning. There will be plenty of time to be in the sun and see the sights, but also do some good by volunteering at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Help with turtle habitat, beach cleanup, and watch some hatchlings released; all things you can do in a day or two of your vacation. Make it a double hitter by heading to the Bahamas to swim with green turtles as well as many other exciting adventures.

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