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Anna Marie

You’ll Love the Hard-Shell Patients at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Travel with Pull Over and Let Me Out to Jekyll Island, Georgia, to see sea turtle recovery in action and meet the hard-shell patients at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
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Hi, I’m Anna Marie. I’m a wife, mother, Irish dancer, and pug mom living in North Carolina. I also love to travel. Come along for the ride! If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Pull over and let me out.’

Along the Georgia coast, about halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, is Jekyll Island. Once known as an exclusive winter retreat for America’s elite families, today the island is popular as a beach vacation destination and golfer’s paradise. It’s also home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  The only sea turtle education and rehabilitation in the state welcomes visitors to meet and learn about its special hard-shell patients.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened in 2007 and is operated by the Jekyll Island Authority. Since the hospital’s opening, it has been dedicated to sea turtle rehabilitation, education, and research.

Housed in what was once the island’s power plant, the center welcomes visitors and provides an opportunity to see these amazing creatures up close as they recover from injury or illness.

The Sea Turtle Center is committed to educating the public about the plight of sea turtles. The GSTC education team boasts a variety of programs including; field trips, group tours, summer programs and scout programs. Kids can even “shell-e-brate” birthdays at the center.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center sign
Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia

An Eco-Friendly Tourist Attraction

This eco-friendly tourist attraction allows guests to look in on patients at the hospital and learn the difference between turtles, terrapins and tortoises. There are also interactive exhibits and displays geared towards children making the center a family-friendly treat.

Open year-round with indoor and outdoor programs, the center makes a fantastic day trip itinerary item that is perfect for visitors of all ages.

a sea turtle in a swimming pool
Erika the sea turtle rehabilitates in the pool.

Programs & Events

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center takes advantage of its location. Jekyll Island is according to the website, “home to more than a thousand acres of maritime forest, 10 miles of shoreline, and best-in-class biologists and researchers.”

Consequently, the island’s almost tropical environment is the ideal setting for learning. Visitors can enjoy one of many programs and events that take place at the center.

From Scute’s School to Summer Beach Programs to Behind the Scenes Tours, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center offers guests multiple ways to get a glimpse into the life of a sea turtle. These popular programs deliver an array of educational opportunities that provide a one-of-a-kind eco-experience.

For our visit, we enjoyed having the chance to get up close to these incredible turtles and learn more about them. They truly are amazing creatures.

an educational sign about sea turtles
Education is a key mission at Georgia Sea Turtle Center
a sign that says shhh sea turtle hospital
Rehabilitation is the other key mission at Georgia Sea Turtle Center
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Flashlights are prohibited on or near beaches from May to October, unless using turtle-safe lighting. Turtle-safe lighting including lamps/tubes/bulbs/diodes or other light sources that may be used in exterior light fixtures has been specially designed to emit only long wavelength light (amber or red LEDs producing light wavelengths not less than 560 nanometers) that is not disruptive to nesting sea turtles or their hatchlings. Turtle-safe lights can be purchased at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s gift shop.

Tips for Planning Your Visit

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and there are two ticket prices available. For visitors ages 4-12 the cost is $9 and for visitors 13 and up it is $11. Children 3 and under are free.

They operate on a timed-entry system so you are encouraged to purchase tickets ahead of time online. Punctuality is a plus. There is a 30-minute grace period to enter beyond your scheduled time. You will also save $1 if you purchase online.

A general admission ticket includes entry into the gallery areas including the turtle rehabilitation pavilion and the interactive learning center. Special programs are available as a separate ticket purchase. Consult the center’s calendar to learn of upcoming events.

To fully enjoy time spent at the center, you will want to allow at least a couple of hours to visit and explore. This will give you the chance to see the turtles and enjoy the exhibits. You can also pop into the gift shop to find the perfect souvenir.

Additionally, no food or drink is permitted with the exception of water. There is a water bottle filling station and picnic tables are available a short distance from the center.

The facility is wheelchair accessible but they don’t have rentals onsite. Strollers are allowed but they prefer visitors leave them at home if possible.

a pair of diamond back terrapins
These Diamondback Terrapins made this Maryland girl smile.

More to do on Jekyll Island

Golf, dining, shopping, beaches, outdoor adventure, tours and more. You name it, there is something fun to do on Jekyll Island. There are numerous tours including eco-tours, historic tours, dolphin tours, and ghost tours. There is even  Summer Waves Water Park, a favorite family-friendly attraction.

Moreover, Jekyll Island boasts an abundance of restaurants and eateries so you can plan an enjoyable meal after you tour the center.

Likewise, there are plenty of wonderful choices for accommodation in a range of styles and price points, should you choose to stay on Jekyll Island. What’s more, you’re only a short drive away from St. Simon’s Island which also has a host of attractions and is the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles.

a big sea turtle in a pool
One of many sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Parting Thoughts

Your visit doesn’t have to end when you leave the GSTC – you can become involved and help out by either donating, becoming a member, or through their adopt-a-sea-turtle program.

Or, you can really “come out of your shell” and volunteer. Multiple opportunities are available to assist at the center. All are great ways to support a worthy cause that is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a must-see when visiting Jekyll Island, Georgia. Children and adults will delight in experiencing and learning about these hard-shell reptiles that have inhabited Earth for millions of years.

Jekyll Island is no longer the exclusive playground for Rockefellers, Goulds, Morgans, and Pullitzers – today, the barrier island plays a vital role in educating the public and rehabilitating injured and ill sea turtles.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center
214 Stable Road
Jekyll Island, GA 31527

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You’ll Love the Hard-Shell Patients at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center

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