Marine Science Center celebrates 10 years of turtle rehabilitation, marine education
The county’s highly popular Marine Science Center (MSC) in Ponce Inlet is celebrating its birthday and you’re invited. Now 10 years old, the animal hospital and environmental education facility has surpassed 500,000 visitors and has cared for more than 25,000 injured animals since it opened in 2002.
In celebration of its 10-year milestone, the MSC will hold a public birthday celebration open house Sunday, June 10, from 1 - 3 p.m. The animal hospital, bird area and interactive exhibits will be free to the public. The day likely will conclude with the release of animals that have been nursed back to good health. The release, at the Beach Street ramp to the beach, is dependent on the weather and the condition of the animals on the day of the event.
“We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone,” said MSC Director Michael Brothers. “We appreciate the opportunity to expose so many guests to the wonders of our marine habitats and the creatures that inhabit it.”
Since the MSC opened, more than half a million visitors have been educated about marine life and MSC staff has cared for thousands of turtles, birds and other sea animals --17,196 of which were reptiles such as gopher tortoises, freshwater turtles and snakes. The Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Facility at the MSC has received 8,961 birds since it opened in 2004. The goal for all animals that come to the MSC is to be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild.
In addition to educational programs and exhibits, such as 5,000-gallon sea aquarium, visitors can get a hands-on experience at the touch pool, where they can pet sting rays and get up-close to hermit crabs and sea urchins. They can see rehabilitation in action at the Turtle Terrace where injured sea turtles receive specialized care. One of the newest features is the observation window where visitors can watch turtles being worked on by the veterinarian and marine science center staff.
The wooden birdwalk leading to the Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary features live displays of bald eagles, brown pelicans and other birds that are recovering from injury or that permanently reside at sanctuary.
Friends of the Marine Science Center, a group of citizens who support the Marine Science Center with fundraising and volunteering, is co-hosting the event. The MSC is at 100 Lighthouse Dr., Ponce Inlet. For more information, call 386-304-5545.