Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Foundation

Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Foundation

The Gulfarium has been in operation for 63 years. During this period, the parks zoological team has been utilized as the primary rehabilitation, release, and care program for Okaloosa and Walton counties. Sea turtles have increasingly been impacted by changes in climate, pollution, over-fishing, and emerging diseases, to name but a few. Annual rescues and medical needs have nearly exceeded the parks current program capabilities.

Thus, in 2015, Gulfarium embarked on the creation of a new sea turtle care center, including the incorporation of a 501c3 entitled Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Foundation, Inc.. The intent is to build an education center, a medical hospital, and a complex of rehabilitation pools. The grant will be combined with a RESTORE Act award and private funding from Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park to complete phase 1 of the C.A.R.E. Centers development.

To the Women and Visionaries of IMPACT 100,

It is with great humility and infinite gratitude that Gulfariums CARE Program accepts your 2018 award, funding expansion of our sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation capability. As the condition of our Emerald Coast and Gulf of Mexico continue to show exponential environmental challenges, sea turtles bear much of the negative impact. Whether its pollution, dwindling food sources, emerging diseases, shrinking nesting habitat, increasing amounts of discarded fishing gear, or swift changes in seasonal temperatures, these threatened species need help from caring individuals. While Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has proudly supported sea turtle conservation efforts for more than 60 years, we cannot succeed alone. Thus our partnership with IMPACT 100 could not have come at a better time.

On an annual basis, Gulfariums CARE Program rescues, rehabilitates, and releases an average of 40 sea turtles. While this may seem like a large number, the reality is our organization has to decline admission for many other candidates due to a lack of space availability. This results in transporting animals to alternative destinations, which can result in additional stress for already compromised or injured animals. CARE responds to a myriad of scenarios including disoriented turtle hatchlings, cold-stunned individuals, animals injured by boat collisions, and (all too often) sea turtles that have consumed or been tangled in fishing gear. Each of these rescues require significant staffing, medicinal intervention, and temporary housing. The IMPACT 100 grant will play a tremendous role in expanding the potential for returning sea turtles back to their ecosystem.

Citizens that call our beautiful coastline home love marine life. We witness this each and every time that we release animals. Hundreds of individuals attend the joyous occasion of sending rehabilitated animals back to the Gulf of Mexico, and thousands more follow our efforts through social media. Likewise more than 250,000 annual guests visit our Marine Park, creating opportunities for them to better understand the relationship our behavior has on sea turtle lifecycles. Put simply, IMPACT 100s generous gift supports the publics call to action for the preservation of sea turtles, and we are beyond grateful for the financial gift to CAREs rescue program.

Sea turtles are an important and iconic animal for Florida. Thank you IMPACT 100 for placing your hearts and fiscal resolve behind the effort to rescue, rehabilitate, and release these remarkable creatures.

Warmest regards,

Patrick Berry
Executive Director, Gulfarium CARE Program