Marine Science Center to reopen on weekends
While many humans sought solitude and shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic, sea turtles kept on doing, well, what sea turtles do. They laid nests, fed on marine life and glided gracefully through coastal waters.
Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, the staff of the Marine Science Center (MSC) continued to care for sick and injured turtles even though their doors were closed to the public.
The public is invited to return to the popular Ponce Inlet destination beginning June 6, when the center will begin a phased reopening. Initially, the center will be open only on weekends, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Admission will be limited to 40 persons at a time. Visitors will be required to pass a health screening with a temperature of less than 100.4 degrees and no symptoms of COVID-19.
Visitors may view the turtle hospital, where 15 sea turtles are being treated, including Tantomile and Louisa.
Tantomile stranded at Bethune Park in New Smyrna Beach on March 28 after suffering a boat strike to the head. The juvenile loggerhead is receiving oral antibiotics, and the head wound is progressing well. Tantomile weighed 60.8 pounds upon arrival at the turtle hospital and has packed on nearly 5 pounds, thanks to a healthy diet of squid, mackerel and shrimp.
Louisa, a green sea turtle, was brought to the MSC on May 26 with an old boat strike to the carapace. The 6.3 pound turtle, who was found floating in the waters off New Smyrna Beach, is receiving antibiotics, fluids and wound care.
Visitors may also walk through the marine display area and visit the gift shop. Staff will not offer live animal presentations, and the classroom and bird exhibits will be closed to the public until further notice.