|Sea Turtle Bay rendering courtesy SeaWorld San Diego.|
San Diego, California USA — Come summer 2011, SeaWorld San Diego is going to the sea turtles! A new attraction called Sea Turtle Bay will allow guests to get an up-close look at more than 60 threatened or endangered sea turtles here in the marine-life park, as well as learn more about the threats sea turtles face in the wild. In addition, the attraction will feature thousands of tropical fish, and a new ride that takes passengers on an exciting rescue mission of their own.
SeaWorld broke ground for Sea Turtle Bay in November 2010 and construction is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2011. The focal point of Sea Turtle Bay is a nearly 300,000-gallon aquarium, Turtle Reef, with a massive underwater viewing window. Adult Hawksbill and green sea turtles — some more than 50 years old — will be on display, as well as younger green sea turtles that hatched at SeaWorld in 2009.
“We are thrilled to feature these amazing creatures, some some of which are endangered species,” said Thad Dirksen, the park’s curator of fishes. “And our hatchlings are a testament to our stellar husbandry practices and ability to design habitats that allow animals to thrive.”
As guests make their way through Turtle Reef, they will take a journey through the life cycle of sea turtles, learning about where they live, how they nest, what they eat and what threats they face. The total immersive experience of Turtle Reef also will include a game called Race to the Beach, and a touch screen map, Turtlelink, where guests can learn about sea turtle tracking and SeaWorld’s rescue efforts and conservation. Riptide Rescue, a new ride just outside the aquarium, will spin passengers in boats on a rescue mission of their own.
The new sea turtle attraction will also illustrate how trash and pollution can affect the species, with two cylindrically-shaped aquariums: one with jellyfish and one with trash that can be mistaken for food. This exhibit will help illustrate how sea turtles often confuse trash for food and can die after ingesting these items.
“I think it’s important that our guests can learn that they too can play a role in keeping trash and pollution out of the sea turtles’ ocean environment,” said Dirksen.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX), operates 10 parks across the U.S., including SeaWorld parks in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla.; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. The 10 parks play host to 23 million guests each year and employ 20,000 people nationwide.