The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach is celebrating Jonah Jubilee. Jonah is the Center's educational turtle who is getting ready to join his brother and sisters in the deep blue ocean. And his name is quite fitting for him!
Dan Garbose, volunteer, says, "Well, Jonah is named quite appropriately because he actually lived the Jonah and the Whale story. Two summers ago, there were fisherman right out here off Juno Pier catching live bait to go fishing with. And they caught a whole tank of these small blue runners. And when they came back to use the bait fish, there was a teeny, tiny, baby turtle swimming around."
Jonah became the Loggerhead Marinelife Center's educational turtle - becoming quite the celebrity. "He goes out to all the school programs. He's been to fundraisers, and he's just a genuine character and goofball I must say."
But, now, it's time to say goodbye. Jonah's shell has reached the required 45 centimeter meaning he's big enough to go home.
The Marinelife's director, Nanette Lawrenson calls Jonah's release bittersweet. "Jonah came to us as a little tiny hatchling and has been with us for two years. Our staff, volunteers and customers have all grown accustomed to seeing Jonah greet us every morning, and we are very, very excited Jonah will be released back to her own home back in the ocean. But, yea, it's bittersweet."
She and her staff along with more than 200 volunteers help 40 to 50 turtles every year. And for $35, you can have your very own.
Dan explains, "Since the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a total non-for-profit, one of the ways we raise money is we put turtles up for adoption."
No, you can't take them home. But you can visit them at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. That is until they are ready to be released like Jonah.
And, remember, your play area is their home. And turtles tend to mistake plastic bottles, bags even balloons for food.
"The reason why turtles are attracted to plastic bags and plastic bottles is because they eat jellyfish. And these plastics look like jellyfish in the ocean. So, we have received quite a few turtles over the years that have plastic balloons, plastic bags, that they've ingested them," says Nanette.
So, as we sign Jonah's bon voyage oversized card, we say best of luck and enjoy your new endless tank of water.