New £100k refuge for sea turtles

A spectacular new £100,000 refuge for freshwater turtles will be unveiled at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre next month.

The new turtle shelter will be a permanent sanctuary for turtles that have outgrown their former homes, and a breeding station for rare and endangered species.

The planned new feature means there are just three weeks in which to take a last look at the residents of special exhibition Sea Stars, before it is packed up and moved on to make way for the turtles.

The new facility may also house turtles illegally imported and confiscated at ports or airports by specialist customs officers.

“As well providing ideal homes for a variety of freshwater turtles it will be an educational display informing visitors about the conservation needs of both freshwater and sea turtles,” said curator Christine Pitcher.

Turtles have been around for 200 million years, but several species are now endangered.

Inspired by the shapes and make-up of turtles themselves, the design of the new attraction promises to be visually striking.

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“There will be giant turtle eggs and even animatronic hatchlings emerging from their shells!” revealed Christine

Other features will include a special periscope to enable visitors to see what a turtle sees underwater, and a magnetic maze challenging visitors to navigate a baby sea turtle through the variety of hazards that confront hatchlings in the wild.

Species on display will include map turtles, an Eastern snakeneck turtle, a Chinese soft-shell turtle and two red-bellied short-neck turtles among others.

“Some of them will be registered in an international turtle stud book, which keeps a record of captive stock and enables different facilities to exchange animals for a healthy genetic pool,” Christine added.

“The addition of the Turtle Shelter maintains our policy of investing in the Sea Life centre every year to continually enhance the visitor’s experience.”

The attraction opens on Saturday, February 13.