Living Coast Discovery Center Anticipates Arrival Of Newest Coastal Wildlife Ambassador: Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle

With the Help of FedEx, Rehabilitated turtle from Florida Keys, Finds “Forever Home” at Zoo/Aquarium on San Diego Bay

 
To learn more about how you can support our newest ambassador and the Living Coast Discovery Center,  please visit  http://www.thelivingcoast.org/about-us/get-involved/donate/
 

CHULA VISTA, CALIF. (SEPT. 24, 2014) – The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium on San Diego Bay in Chula Vista, announced today that its newest coastal wildlife ambassador, a twice injured and rehabilitated Loggerhead sea turtle nicknamed “Sapphire,” is en route from the Florida Keys, via a chartered flight donated by FedEx, to join the center’s permanent marine wildlife exhibit.

Sapphire, a 130-pound female Loggerhead estimated to be a sub-adult (teenager), comes to the Living Coast from The Turtle Hospital based in Marathon, Florida. In February 2010, she was rescued after being struck by a boat propeller. She was rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

In May 2013, she was readmitted to the hospital after being found floating in Florida Bay, near Sapphire Key. The reptile was covered in a “skirt” of epibiota (sea grass and algae) around the lower end of her carapace, indicative of floating for several weeks or perhaps months at the water’s surface.

After several months of treatment, the Turtle Hospital’s rehabilitation team and Florida wildlife officials determined she was not a candidate for release. A search for a new “forever home” began and The Living Coast responded to the need.

Sapphire is scheduled to arrive in San Diego Thursday, Sept. 25. After a day of rest and observation, she will be available for public viewing beginning Saturday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. Animal lovers can also follow Sapphire’s journey in real-time on her new Twitter account (@SapphiredUp) and on the Living Coast’s Facebook page. (www.facebook.com/thelivingcoast).

Sapphire’s new home will be in a 21,000-gallon temperate ocean water tank in the Living Coast’s Shark and Ray Experience, with a large glass underwater viewing area that offers visitors the opportunity to get face-to-face with these marine creatures.

All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are currently listed as endangered or threatened by the Endangered Species Act. Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles are the more common species found along the San Diego coastline, and are featured in the Living Coast’s warmer-water Sea Turtle Lagoon exhibit. As a temperate species, Loggerheads (scientific name: Caretta caretta) are also known to visit local waters during seasonal migrations.

“Sapphire is a real ‘gem’ with an inspirational story of survival and team-work,” said Sherry Lankston, the Living Coast’s director of communications and guest experience, who supported the turtle in her cross-country journey this week. “She will serve as an important educational ambassador to showcase the power of conservation efforts around the world to protect these amazing coastal creatures and their habitats.”

“Having survived a serious boat strike injury and an intestinal impaction, Sapphire is a perfect ambassador for her species,” said Bette Zirkelbach, manager of The Turtle Hospital. “She will play an important role helping to raise awareness about a major threat to sea turtles: boat strikes. We have no doubt that Sapphire will sparkle in her new forever home!”

About the Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery, a 501(c) 3 educational zoo and aquarium located within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on San Diego Bay, began operating as a non-profit in 2010 after assuming operations of the Chula Vista Nature Center. The Living Coast Discovery offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with more than 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles, sting rays, leopard sharks, jellies, shorebirds, reptiles and a large collection of raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls, American bald eagle, golden eagle, and more. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at www.thelivingcoast.org or (619) 409-5900.

 About The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys
Based in the Florida Keys, The Turtle Hospital opened in 1986 to rehabilitate injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat, educate the public through outreach programs, conduct and assist with research aiding sea turtles, and work toward environmental legislation making beaches and ocean waters safe and clean. In keeping with its mission, the hospital is open daily for Florida Keys visitors to tour the facility and learn more. Additional information about The Turtle Hospital and its patients is available at www.turtlehospital.org or by calling (305) 743-2552. The hospital is located in Marathon, just off the Florida Keys Overseas Highway at mile marker 48.5.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $46 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

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San Diego’s and the Living Coast Discovery Center’s newest jewel

Sapphire swimming in Florida.

San Diego’s and the Living Coast Discovery Center’s newest jewel:

Sapphire the Loggerhead Sea Turtle

In September, 2014, the Living Coast Discovery Center takes over the care of a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Sapphire was rescued – twice! – by The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. She has had at least one encounter with a boat propeller and will now call the Living Coast Discovery Center home.

 

Sapphire Facts
Sapphire is a female Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Scientific name: Caretta caretta
Why Loggerhead: Because of their large heads
Age: While it is impolite to ask a female’s age, she is classified as sub-adult, probably a teenager
Weight: 129.3 lbs
Length: 64.1″
Width: 61.5″

Did you Know?: Sapphire is the first animal at the Living Coast Discovery Center to have her own Twitter account. Follow her at @SapphiredUp or Twitter.com/SapphiredUp

Sapphire’s Story

Sapphire's 2010 rescue.

Sapphire’s story begins back in February, 2010. She was discovered in a canal in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. She was having trouble submerging, which made her a target for dangerous boat propellers. She was rescued and brought to The Turtle Hospital (Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, Inc.), a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, and released into the wild after a brief rehabilitation.

On May 13, 2013, Sapphire was re-admitted to The Turtle Hospital, having been found again in boating lanes. As she arrived at the hospital, the rehab staff were amused at the “skirt” she seemed to be wearing on the lower end of her carapace from all the epibiota that had developed while she had obviously been floating at the surface for multiple weeks and maybe even months.

Meanwhile, the Living Coast Discovery Center was looking for a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Inquiries were made and, just about the time it was dawning on the staff at The Turtle Hospital that Sapphire might not be a candidate for release into the wild, introductions were made.

Sapphire will travel to San Diego via a chartered flight donated by FedEx!

To learn more about how you can support our newest ambassador and the Living Coast Discovery Center,  please visit  http://www.thelivingcoast.org/about-us/get-involved/donate/

About The Living Coast Discovery Center
Located six miles south of downtown San Diego, the Living Coast Discovery Center sits on the 316-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The Living Coast is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing environmental education on coastal resource conservation, and instilling a respect for nature and wildlife in people of all ages. We do this by providing interactive wildlife learning experiences

About The Turtle Hospital
In 1993, a bar called Fanny’s converted to The Turtle Hospital, the only state-certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles. More than half of the hospital’s equipment has been generously donated by hospitals, doctors, private individuals and organizations. The Hospital is funded by personal donors, grant and foundation money, merchandise sales and guided educational experiences.

About FedEx Corp.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $46 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and
trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

Fun Loggerhead Links:

About Loggerhead Turtles on NationalGeographic.comThe Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital

Sapphire’s Last Rescue

Sapphire’s First Rescue

FedEx Operates a Turtle Rescue Truck

Check out the Sapphire Gallery below:

Happy Hatching Day Saturday, Oct. 4th

Ready for cake?

Help us celebrate the fifth anniversary of the hatching of our four Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Our four male turtles were discovered, as eggs, at another aquatic park in San Diego and entrusted to us to  raise. The Hatching Day festivities will take place all day but we’ll serve special Hatching Day Cakes (one for the turtles and another for humans) at Noon on Saturday, October 4, 2014.

We’ll also be celebrating a few other ‘turtle’ updates at the Living Coast this day: Our new desert tortoise exhibit will be ready to reveal and…a special new 112lb  resident animal ambassador will be ready to make your acquaintance!

You would think that four male turtles, approaching adolescence, would want to be referred to like another set of famous turtles but we’re not like that. Instead we refer to them by the names of four famous painters of the Italian Renaissance.

See more pictures of our Sea Turtles at this gallery: Five years of turtles at Living Coast