Saturday, June 30, 2012

Marine Discovery Center

Yesterday we all took a trip to the Marine Discovery center on Ponce Inlet, about 40 minutes away from our house. We have been wanting to go for awhile, and yesterday afternoon we suddenly decided to go! It was kind of a race because we got out the door around 2:30 and they stop letting people in at 3:30. Even though they close at 4 which means we wouldn't have very much time to see everything, we figured that there would never be a day when Anthony was home earlier than yesterday so we might as well go and enjoy it as much as we could before they close.
It was fun! They have a sting ray touch tank and tons of separate aquariums, most of them saltwater. Anthony was in heaven :) He kept looking at their equipment and setup and going, "Did you know that each one of those is $400???" and things like that. Later he mentioned that he would love to have their budget for his tank at home. Sometimes I really think he missed his calling, that man would love to be a marine biologist.
All of the aquariums had a kid level viewing window like this, and I think it is the best idea ever! James loved it. He would crouch down and look and then rush over to the next one and do the same thing, around and around to each one.

Anthony was trying to get James to touch the sting ray, but mostly he just wanted to splash the water.
 I tried to get a picture of the sting ray coming up right to the edge and how much they put their bodies out of the water. Whenever I see sting rays in tanks like this, it always fascinates me how much they obviously like to be petted and get attention. They are just like dogs! If one is getting attention, another one will come up and try to slide on top of them to get in on the action. It is even more amazing, since this was just a touch tank, and not one where you lure them with food.
 There was a really tall artifical reef tank in the middle of the room that had some cool stuff in it. I was trying to show James the HUGE lobster in there.

 Look at the lobster photobombing our pictures!! Ha!
 These were some fresh water turtles sunning themselves. We got to see them swim around underwater through the viewing window and it was pretty neat.
 I was totally fooled by this guy when I first looked at him. I thought he was a rock!
This tank had two moray eels and they are creepy looking. They have rows of sharp looking teeth and they look like some kind of sea monster. It reminds me of the huge one we saw in the keys last year while we were snorkeling. Yikes!

The part of the center I was most excited to see is their sea turtle rescue and rehabiliation center. They are the go to place in the area for injured sea turtles and they have a huge room full of multiple seapools that are labeled like hospital beds (They have ICU 1, ICU 2, etc..) In front of the viewing glass they have a map of which sea turtle is in what pool, their name, type, when they came to the center, their injury, and what type of rehabiliation they are recieving. For example, one turtle has limited use of his front flippers after some kind of infection/illness and now he is getting physical therapy to try to get his use back. Cool, right?

I don't know if you can see, but this turtle is missing his front left flipper (the one closest to the camera) from a boat strike. It didn't seem to stop him from getting around though, he just did more circles than probably necessary :)

 It is hard to tell in this picture too (I had to take them from high up behind a glass wall), but this guy has a huge gap in his shell right on the top behind his head (you see the white line?) from the propeller of a boat. It is causing him bouyancy problems so they are working on it with him.
They had a chart with the numbers of turtles they received for rehab over the years and I was really surprised at how high the numbers were. In 2011, they received something like 150 adult sea turtles and 200+ baby sea turtles. Since they only had 3 or 4 adults in the hospital, I am assuming that most of them were released...or maybe that is wishful thinking. They didn't give any numbers on how many didn't make it, but maybe because that would be too sad :( There were pictures of some of the releases back into the ocean that looked really cool, so we will definitely have to look for an announcement of the next release. They are open to the public, so it would be a cool thing to go to and see.

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