Gumbo Limbo Nature Center – Boca Raton, FL

October 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago, with the unusual occurance of having some time to kill, I took my son to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.  Even though we are just around the corner from there at least once a week, we hadn’t been since around April, so I decided it was time to go and see the newly opened tanks.  We went on a great day – the crowd was light, the tanks were beautiful, and the Turtle Hospital was open.

As usual, our first stop was the Butterfly Garden.  Even though the garden is in full bloom in the summer, there is never a shortage of butterflies here.  The Butterfly Garden is part of a trail system that will lead you through a wooded area and down to the intercoastal with a beautiful view.  If you’re lucky, you may see a manatee cruising by.

Gumbo Limbo has 4 new saltwater tanks on display – 2 shallow and 2 deep, all representing different types of Florida environments.  The two shallow water tanks show you a coastal mangrove system with an island and mangroves, and a shallow water reef.  You can expect to see tropical fish here as well as fish like needle fish and even baracuda.

Thw two deep water tanks are where all the action is at and the best views of the animals living inside.  These tanks represent a coral reef and an artificial reef.  The artificial reef is not yet complete and is expected to be getting a shipwreck later this year.  Complete or not, they’re still great fun!  From the bottom, you can get a front row seat to animals cruising by the glass.  In these tanks you’ll see colorful Parrot Fish, busy Sting Rays, lines of Lobster marching along, and a family of Sharks. (Momma is in one tank, several of her babies are in the other).  If you really want to see some action try to go around feeding time, which I believe is around 12:30.  These tanks will also become homes to Sea Turtles after completion.

Also newly opened is Gumbo Limbo’s Turtle Hospital.  This facility is equipted to take care of sick of injured Sea Turtles like “Cindy” (pictured above) who was brought to the facility back in July after a shark attack nearly severed her front right flipper and fishermen found her injured.  Surgery managed to save what was left.  Along with Cindy are other turtles being treated for entanglement and injuries caused by boats.  These turtles are a good lesson to us all to be more mindful and clean up after ourselves.  Turtles easily confuse plastic bags with their delicacy of jelly fish, litter is obviously very dangerous to them.

Just around the corner from the Turtle Hospital is another endangered animal in a shell, Gumbo Limbo’s resident Gopher Tortoises.  Here, guests have a chance to see the normally rather shy tortoise up close in a natural habitat made for them amongst the boardwalk area leading to the tanks and FAU classrooms.  If you come at snack time, you’ll be sure to see them.  Otherwise, look into the burrows, there’s usually somebody home.

IF YOU GO:

Learn more about Gumbo Limbo and the wonderful things they do here… http://www.gumbolimbo.org/Home

While this is a free place to visit, be a greatful visitor and throw them a donation.  They take care of a lot of critters, help them out.

There are also lots of things for the kids to do inside the nature center itself as well as a boardwalk that has an observation tower and also leads to part of Red Reef Park.  There is no picnicing at Gumbo Limbo, but you’re more than welcome to make the walk to Red Reef Park to picnic there.  Just remember, don’t feed the animals.

Please be respectful of the animals and keep the new tanks looking new, don’t tap on the glass.  Noise is much louder in water, it really can frighten the animals.

ENJOY!

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