Advertisement
  1. Hillsborough

Florida Aquarium opens $4.1 million turtle rehab center at growing Apollo Beach campus

In the long run, plans also call for shark and stingray rehabilitation centers, public access to the campus, and a connection through a walking trail to the nearby Manatee Viewing Center.
Roger Germann, chief executive of the Florida Aquarium, says a new turtle rehabilitation center in Apollo Beach will enable his organization to be better stewards of the environment.
Published Jan. 23

APOLLO BEACH — Downtown Tampa's Florida Aquarium has big plans for its 20-acre Apollo Beach campus.

On Wednesday, the aquarium took a step toward making them happen when it unveiled a new two-story, 19,000-square-foot Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.

The $4.1 million open-air center features a surgery center and five pools from 1,500 gallons to 25,000 gallons in size.

The largest pool reaches a depth of 11 feet, big enough to monitor whether a recovering turtle can dive for food before it is released into the wild.

The turtle rehabilitation center joins a reef restoration project under way at the Apollo Beach campus, where coral is grown in 1,500-square-foot greenhouses for planting later in the wild.

The aquarium hopes to build another six greenhouses at around $250,000 each as money becomes available.

Tampa and Cuba, once Cold War enemies, now work together to save the ocean

In the long run, the aquarium's plans also call for shark and stingray rehabilitation centers, public access to the campus, and a connection through a walking trail to Tampa Electric Co.'s nearby Manatee Viewing Center, said Ari Fustukjian, an associate veterinarian with the aquarium.

But one step at a time, said Fustukjian. The first turtles are expected at the new center next week. There's room to care for as many as 20 large turtles or 40 to 50 smaller ones — many more than the capacity of four large turtles at the turtle rehabilitation center in the aquarium's downtown locaqtion.

The downtown center still will be used for critical cases, Fustukjian said.

"If I have an animal that requires major surgery it will probably be easier to manage there."

The aquarium estimates it has helped more than 150 threatened or endangered turtles since opening its doors in 1995.

Funding for the Apollo Beach center includes $3 million from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission $690,000 from the Spurlino Foundation and $400,000 from the aquarium.

On Florida beaches in 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission counted more than 96,000 loggerhead turtle nests, 53,000 green turtle nests and 663 leatherback turtle nests, agency chairman Robert Spottswood said Wednesday.

"By opening this facility, we will be able to save more, rescue more and return more to the wild," aquarium chief executive Roger Germann said.

"This investment will only help us further our mission of protecting and restoring our fragile blue planet."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or follow @PGuzzoTimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa City Council members don't agree on much when it comes to the city's eight Community Redevelopment Areas. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Some City Council members say the popular redevelopment tools are unfair to other neighborhoods.
  2. The graves of Caroline and Thomas Hicks are among nine found to have been moved out of the long-forgotten Zion Cemetery along North Florida Avenue. They were reburied in Memorial Park, believed to be the second African-American cemetery in Tampa. JAMES BORCHUCK  |
    The story of the pioneer Tampa family might help explain the disappearance of the place where some 800 African-Americans were buried.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
    It’s unclear when the Mazda driver started driving the wrong way on the interstate, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
  4. A surveillance photo of an alleged gunman in Tampa shared by the Tampa Police Department on Saturday, October 12, 2019. The shooter allegedly seriously injured an 18-year-old outside the Fat Boy grocery on the 1300 block of E Osborne Avenue, police say. Tampa Police Department
    The shooter was with a young boy, police said.
  5. Tampa firefighter Tanja Vidovic steps out of the federal courthouse in Tampa in during the 2017 federal trial of her sexual discrimination case against the city of Tampa. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON   |   Times]
    Tanja Vidovic will run against incumbent Joe Ayoub in the city’s March 2020 elections.
  6. Pasco County Fire Rescue firefighter Daniel Esteban Rebora, 32, was arrested at his fire station on 10 counts of possession of child pornography, according to deputies. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said he had 10 videos depicting children being sexually assaulted on his phone. He is now on paid leave.
  7. The Topgolf on Palm River Road in Brandon features over 100 golf bays, a bar, a full food and dessert menu, a rooftop terrace and a large event space. Players can also enjoy free wifi, over 200 HD TVs as well as pool and fooseball tables. [Times (2014)]
    The driving-range filed for permits this week to add on the new course.
  8. Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, a well-known Tampa plastic surgeon, died on Oct. 5 when his twin-engine plane crashed soon after taking off from Kokomo Municipal Airport in Indiana. Greenwald family | Tim Bath/The Kokomo Tribune via AP
    An employee at the Kokomo Municipal Airport said Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald told him he wanted jet fuel for the Piper Aerostar. A friend says there’s no way he would have knowingly done so.
  9. A Tampa company has spent nearly $8.8 million acquiring 180 acres north of Shell Point Road in Ruskin. Susan Taylor Martin
    We find the answers in our continuing look at new construction in the Tampa Bay area.
  10. A Walmart Neighborhood Market employee helps a customer pay for online grocery pickup order. Walmart
    Updated store will also have online grocery ordering and pickup starting Oct. 19.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement