On January 23rd, team members from RGA-Design attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Florida Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center at Apollo Beach. RGA-Design has been working closely with the Florida Aquarium team on projects in Apollo Beach and others at the downtown Tampa aquarium.
The expansion allows the Aquarium to dramatically increase the number of sea turtles it can care for during the year. It will also allow the public to get an up close look at the efforts to care for endangered sea turtles and other conservation projects.
The $4.1 million building sits on a 20-acre site, which is just south of TECO’s Big Bend power station. The center is 19,000 square feet spread across two stories and contains a surgery center, recovery room, laboratories, a research center, and five pools ranging between 1,500 and 25,000 gallons. The largest pool, at 11 feet deep and the largest of its kind in the state, will allows staff members to better assess the health of the sea turtles by allowing them to practice diving before being returned to the wild. The center will be able to care for anywhere between 20 and 50 turtles depending on their size.
The center is a collaboration of public and private entities who have a shared goal of improving the health of sea turtles. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Spurlino Foundation, the Florida Aquarium, and TECO Energy all contributed resources to the success of this project.
The Florida Aquarium has plans to expand the site to include coral reef greenhouses called "arks", shark and stingray rehabilitation centers, and a walking trail to connect it to TECO’s nearby manatee viewing area.