Sea Turtle Center Opens This Weekend - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/14/07

Sea Turtle Center Opens This Weekend

After years of anticipation, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center is finally opening this weekend in Jekyll Island.

It's a state-of-the art facility designed and built for injured or sick sea turtles.

Veterinarian Dr. Terry Norton thought it was necessary to build a center since he was responding so many calls for sea turtles needing help.

"It was obvious we were starting to get sick and stranded sea turtles, and we really didn't have a place for them," said Norton.

The center started taking turtles a couple weeks ago. Like Nick, who was found washed up on the shores of Cumberland Island with a terrible head wound.

"We didn't think he was going to make it, but he's a fighter," said Dr. Bill Irwin.

A fighter is right. Nick was struck by a boat propeller, which slashed the side of his face just missing his eyes and brain. Dr. Norton says Nick has a long way to go, but is hopeful he'll make a full recovery.

"He is pretty amazing," said Dr. Norton. "He came in and made improvements since he has been here."

Which were the exact results Dr. Norton wanted when he envisioned opening the center.

But the center isn't just for sea turtles. For example, Roxanne, who was hit by a car when she was trying to cross the street, is a terrapin. 

"They start to come up to lay their eggs and they are crossing to find a good place that is high up and they don't know there are cars going 55 miles per hour or faster and they get hit," said Norton.

Most of the time the doctors are able to help the turtles recover by bandaging their shells and using turtle physical therapy.

It's quite an amazing sight to see, and starting this weekend you can see it too, as the center opens to the public. You'll be able to meet turtles like Nick, tour the facility, and watch how doctors treat the animals.

"We try to make this a very public friendly place so people can see what we do and the sea turtles," said Norton. "We think the bigger impact will hopefully allow people to see the sea turtles and see what is happening."

And, Norton hopes, it might inspire boaters to slow down and drivers to be more cautious, possibly save these and other turtles' lives.

For more information on the center: www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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