It might seem a bit ironic to celebrate World Turtle Day early, rather than slowly and later, but that’s exactly what’s happening at the Bethany Beach Nature Center this weekend.
“Love Our Turtles Day” will be celebrated starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, at the center, according to its director, Nancy Lucy. The day will be the kickoff for the Nature Center’s Family Fun Days, a series of events designed to celebrate all the miraculous things happening in nature in the spring.
“Gosh, May is such an important month in nature,” Lucy said.
World Turtle Day is officially May 23, and the nature center has its own well-loved turtles — two red-eared sliders who have lived in a 150-gallon tank there for about seven years.
“We love our turtles,” Lucy said. “Everybody loves them. Everybody has a story to tell about how they had a turtle when they were a kid,” she added.
A highlight of the day will be a live, interactive Skype session with a volunteer at the Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key in Florida. The Bethany Beach Nature Center has “adopted” a Ridley turtle at the hospital, Lucy said. Adoption of a turtle helps provide rescued turtles with food, medical care and surgical care, she said.
While there are Ridley turtles along the Mid-Atlantic coast, they are more common in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Lucy.
The May 18 program will also include an information session about how red-eared sliders, an invasive species in Delaware, came to be common along the East Coast. In the 1950s, Lucy explained, hatchlings from the Mississippi River Basin were exploited and sold “up and down the East Coast” as pets, with many later released into the wild.
Information will also be shared about the importance of using “turtle excluders” on crab pots here, Lucy said. Terrapins, she said, “can get stuck and drown” in the pots without the excluders, which don’t prevent crabs from entering the pots.
“We will also have a conversation about why turtles need to be protected” and how climate change and sea-level rise are impacting turtle populations.
The event will also include a “mystery activity” on the Baldwin Nature Trail after the Skype session, as well as free giveaways for attendees.
The Bethany Beach Nature Center is located at 807 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach. For more information on “Love our Turtles Day” and other activities at the nature center, call (302) 537-7680 or visit the town of Bethany Beach website at www.townofbethanybeach.com/397/Nature-Center.
By Kerin Magill