The non-divers group started off the morning with a trip to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Due to construction traffic we missed the nature walk led by the naturalist, however, we had a great time exploring the forest/ beach habitats on our own. We walked along the 1,600-foot boardwalk that spans the waterway in Lake Worth and got to see pipefish, lizards, pelicans, and a myriad of other birds. After our walk we had a chance to check out the new visitor’s center that opened last week. While at the visitor’s center we had a chance to explore the new exhibits and find out more about the wildlife, specifically the loggerhead turtle which we would come in contact with later in the day. An employee also filled us in on the history of the park. The 325-acre park is named after the previous owner, John D. MacArthur, who wished to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
We then traveled to the Loggerhead Marine Life Center named for the Loggerhead Turtle, common to this part of Florida. We walked through to the back of the center where the turtles are located. Each rescued turtle had its own tank which reported its name, condition/injuries, plan for recovery, weight when rescued, and current weight. There was also a spot where you could follow the turtle’s condition online. We found out that one of the staff member’s sons had gone to Gettysburg, Bullets are everywhere! It was really neat to see the turtles; we even found out that there is a special turtle ambulance that is sent out when a call comes in.
After exploring the rescued turtles we had the opportunity to see turtles in the wild. We explored the habitat of the Gopher Tortoise which is now endangered. This is mostly due to the fact that their habitat is being destroyed by development. We spotted one and watched as it quickly crawled back into the den which is underground. We then headed to lunch after a great start to our day.