Tybee Island Marine Science Center prepares to welcome customers back

Tybee Island Marine Science Center prepares to welcome customers back

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) -When it comes to taking care of animals, it can sometimes seem like a guessing game, due to how limited communication can be.

Work at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center goes on, even without a constant flow of visitors and the others that work there.

“It’s been a big old lonely building with myself and just a bunch of animals," says Chantal Audran, curator at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. "So we’re eager to see humans again, we’re eager to talk to humans.”

Chantal Audran describes the staff at the Center as ‘humans that love to teach.’ And since there is no one to teach, the curator says she’s doing a lot of talking to the animals and not getting a lot back. That could turn in to a lot of talking as they have more than 400 animals there. But she is really missing the ability to teach and watch the joy from others learning from her, the animals, and the others at the center who are working from home now.

“I miss my staff, the joy in all these animals is in sharing it, sharing it with a student who wants to be called turtle man, the next generation of marine scientist," she says. "So we’re a very giving community, and the education is our passion.”

Audran says they are unique in that they are a nature center that brings animals in from the field to teach the students, not keeping the animals for a long period of time. They have turtles, fish, along with other species, including a corn snake, but the star at the center is a rescued sea turtle, Admiral, who Audran calls a real showoff. Admiral may not have emotional ties to people that come through, but she does act different when there are more people around.

“The stimulation is what is the difference, they look for stimulation, like a mobile in a crib, it makes their brain activate, so as much activation as I’m giving her," says Audran. "I know as her primary caregiver, I’m realizing, because I used to think it didn’t have anything to do with the humans, but she does love to show off, she does love to have the stimulation of a school of students.”

And Audran makes sure the Admiral gets what it needs, and wants. Admiral loves the sun, and usually she will attract a crowd when she goes outside for her daily sun bathing.

The Admiral will be returned to the wild after two years at the center, going from 16 grams to 16 pounds. They plan to open up to visitors in some form on June first, and hope to be in the new center at the end of this summer.

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