Northfield, New Jersey- Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. just announced a partnership with the non-profit organization Sea Turtle Recovery (STR) from Northfield, N.J., to operate the Sea Turtle Recovery Center at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. Currently under construction, the Sea Turtle Recovery Center is the first facility of its kind in New Jersey. The new partnership will enable Turtle Back Zoo to enhance its mission of promoting conservation and preservation, while creating a sanctuary to nurture and assist the Zoo’s namesake animals.
Currently, sea turtles that wash ashore or strand in New Jersey are given short term care to stabilize them, however, if a sea turtle’s injury or illness requires long term treatment it needs to be transported out of state. The Sea Turtle Recovery will now provide this long term rehabilitation in New Jersey. “Reducing these animals stress and aiding in their survival is crucial. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has given Sea Turtle Recovery the necessary permits for this important work, and STR is excited to establish the facility at Turtle Back Zoo” said Co-Executive Officer Bill Deerr. “It is estimated that only 1 in 10,000 sea turtles will make it to adulthood and every sea turtle’s life is important to the species survival. I cannot express how it will feel to watch our first patients crawl back into the ocean to thrive.” Co-Executive Officer Brandi Biehl added.
“This project is a great example of how zoos and animal rescue organizations can work together to save animals and raise public awareness about dangers animals face. The facility fills a great need and will help protect the very animals after which our zoo is named,” DiVincenzo said. “We are pleased to be working with Sea Turtle Recovery. They are enthusiastic about their mission of conservation and have the expertise to run a first-class facility,” he added.
Sea Turtle Recovery Center under construction.
An antiquated tortoisry building was demolished earlier this year at Turtle Back Zoo to make room for the new 4,000-square-foot facility to be constructed next to the Sea Lion Sound exhibit. The new facility will have five recovery tanks, life support systems, and an intensive care unit for more critically injured turtles. The public will have views of less critical patients while learning about the perils sea turtles face and what the public can do to help. Once the turtles have regained their health, they will be released back into their natural habitat.
All five species of sea turtles found in the Atlantic Ocean are threatened or endangered. They face many threats including fishing line entanglement, plastic ingestion, boat strikes, and are losing natural nesting and feeding sites because of coastal development. Once the building is complete there will be an on-site surgical facility, large exercise pools, and state of the art equipment for the turtles that strand alive. With the opening of this facility later this year, out of state transports will become unnecessary.
Brandi Biehl teaching about sea turtles.
The Sea Turtle Recovery (STR) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to the rehabilitation, preservation and conservation of sea turtles. Its current work extends throughout the state educating the public about the ecological role of sea turtles, threats they face, and ways to protect their future. Now, thanks to the generosity and ambition of the Turtle Back Zoo, The Sea Turtle Recovery can soon begin to fulfill the other portion of its mission to rehabilitate sea turtles for release back into the wild.
Bill Deerr examines an ill Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
More about the Sea Turtle Recovery can be found by visiting www.seaturtlerecovery.org. More info on the zoo can be found at www.essexcountynj.org/turtlebackzoo.
Contact Person Brandi Biehl
Company name: Sea Turtle Recovery
P.O. Box 629
Northfield, NJ, 08225