Turtle Power

This heroine in a half shell from Southeast Florida helps educate visitors about her endangered brothers and sisters. Propspeed helps her swim and stay happy!

Captain, a green sea turtle no longer able to swim in open water, is a rare example of a sea turtle in captivity who now calls MEEC her home.

Captain, a green sea turtle no longer able to swim in open water, is a rare example of a sea turtle in captivity who now calls MEEC her home.

Oceanmax is proud to support the efforts of the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) at historic Carpenter House in Hollywood Beach. The Nova Southeastern University facility, part of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, was established in partnership with the Broward County Parks Department to educate locals and tourists alike about coastal ecology, with an emphasis on the area’s endangered sea turtles.

 

Captain, MEEC’s brand ambassador, is a green sea turtle and the survivor of a 2010 boat strike that left her unable to dive due to air bubbles created by the impact. No longer capable of swimming in the open ocean, after several stints in rehab, she landed at MEEC, where she delights visitors of all ages as she swims around her “dream pool” with the assistance of weight therapy. With each year of growth, the appropriate amount of weight is added to Captain’s shell, and the attached weights are coated with—you guessed it: Propspeed! Researchers at MEEC were already familiar with Oceanmax’s high-performance foul-release system, having used Propspeed on shark and sea turtle satellite tags for some time.

Tracking sea turtles with satellite tags educational poster

Interactive displays and educational programs are available Tuesday through Saturday. Visitors can learn all about sea turtle husbandry and even watch Captain’s feeding time!

 

“Propspeed has been fantastic for us,” says MEEC director Derek Burkholder. “Satellite tags are an amazing tool; we can actually follow sharks and sea turtles anywhere that they go in the world. But one of the problems is, as soon these antennae or the tag itself gets covered by algae, it stops transmitting. So Propspeed has been a way that we’ve been able to get very long life out of these tags and be able to follow these animals for years, in some cases.”

 

Around 70% of the United States’ sea turtle nesting areas fall in Southeast Florida, from the Space Coast to the Gold Coast, which ranks second in the world for loggerhead sea turtles. Broward County consistently sees three specific species: the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea). By monitoring nests and raising public awareness, the overarching Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (BCSTCP) hopes to protect these threatened creatures.

Ocean Life mural by local Hollywood Beach artist
A colorful mural by a local Hollywood Beach artist captures the center’s vision.

 

Captain, now about 18 years old, is one of few sea turtles in captivity and has been for nine years. A few of her favorite things include cucumber and lettuce sandwiches, the color green, and taking naps in the deep end. But life is a bit busier for the staff at MEEC:

 

“Here, we do a lot of work with everything from sea turtles to sharks to marine debris and some of the amazing local artists here in Hollywood,” says Derek. “We just try to teach as many people as possible about the amazing work that’s going on at NSU and the amazing tools like Propspeed that allow us to do it.”

 

Now, with the launch of Lightspeed, marine researchers have another powerful tool in their arsenal: a coating that prevents biofouling on nonmetal surfaces. US sales director James Maitland was on hand to talk to Derek about the great work he and his team are doing in the video below.

MEEC is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.

4414 N. Surf Road
Hollywood, FL 33019
(954) 357-5125

By Anna Ngo

Oceanmax International

anna.ngo@oceanmax.com

Blog post published 14 January 2019

environmental
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