Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners - 2005
Marinelife Center of Juno Beach
14200 U.S. Highway 1
Juno Beach, FL 33408
The Marinelife Center has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1983, when it opened in borrowed space in a real-estate agent's office. Now, the center cares for about 1,500 turtles a year. Most are hatchlings that couldn't make it to the ocean, but many are injured or sick sea turtles brought to the center for rehab. Fishing equipment and boat propellers cause the most damage. But turtles also convalesce at the center for shark bites and another widespread turtle ailment: flatulence. Yes, gas, which prevents turtles from sinking (as you'd guess, they're fed Beano). Visitors can view the turtles as they rehab in tanks in the center's backyard and watch as they're fed sardines by the six paid staff and a team of volunteers. During turtle egg-laying season in the summer, the center also leads nighttime beach walks and has a "junior marine biologist" program for teenagers. And soon, the center will spend $4 million in donations on a new, 10,000-square-foot facility that will triple its existing building. That is quite a ways from sharing space with a real-estate agent.