Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gumbo Limbo Goes International

"Turtle: The Incredible Journey" Filmed largely in Boca Raton.

About a year and a half ago I visited Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton to interview Nick Stringer, director of a documentary film about Loggerhead sea turtles.
Loggerheads are the most plentiful sea turtles, and 90 percent of them are born in Florida.
Stringer was an animated, enthusiastic fellow who told me the film would concentrate on the life journey of a single female Loggerhead, from hatchling to motherhood.
"Turtle: The Incredible Journey" was shown as part of the 24th annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The first screening was so jammed with ocean guardians and turtle lovers, many of them volunteers at Gumbo Limbo, that a second screening was added as a "best of" series.
The star of "Turtle" was born on the beach in Boca Raton in July, 2002 (the only survivor out of 94 eggs) and bred in the tanks maintained by Florida Atlantic University under the watchful eye of Dr. Kirk Rusenko, a marine conservationist.
The turtle was dubbed FeeBee, and once she had done her film and research duty, she was released in the wild after six years on Nov. 6, 2008. We have not heard the last of her, as a satellite tag is afixed to her shell, enabling resesearchers to track her.
FeeBee is voiced by Miranda Richardson. Hers is a struggle from the day she is hatched. It takes three days just to dig out of the sandy nest, then the hatching must dodge predatory seagulls, pelicans, racoons and crabs in a mad dash to the ocean.
It is no safer in the water, where more predators abound. It's another mad dash to the northbound waters of the powerful Gulf Stream river-within-the Atlantic Ocean.
Once in the Gulf Stream, if the hatchling is lucky it will find refuge in a raft of seaweed.
The incredible journey covers 10,000 kilometers from the Arctic to the Azores to the Caribbean, and it takes 21 years, ending on the very beach where FeeBee was born. Only one in every 10,000 turtles survives predators, accidents and environmental hazards.
"Turtle" is designed so that a child can understand and appreciate it, and therefore it is more educational the action-entertainment.
The folks at Gumbo Limbo and FAU should be justifyably proud of this Austrian-British-German international effort. I know I learned some new things about the amazing Loggerhead. If it comes to your town, you will too. Or better yet visit Gumbo Limbo, one of the few places in the world where visitors can interact with marine life, educators and scientists.
Call 561-338-1473 or visit

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