Sea turtle center now welcoming visitors

For the first time in nearly three months, a group of visitors entered the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center Tuesday to learn about marine ecosystems and meet Sweet Pea, the resident juvenile sea turtle!

It was a blast getting back inside the conservation center to see the marine creatures that call it home. The center closed to visitors back in March due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Center Executive Director Jenn Polus said they are ready to bring in visitors once more, with a few precautions.

“We are very excited. We have missed seeing everyone,” she said.

For now, the re-opening will be limited to pre-registered visitation in small groups. Registration is available at

To ensure the safety of visitors and volunteers, the center is taking extra precautions. Masks will be required for anyone inside the center, and hands will be sanitized at the door for staff, volunteers and visitors. Groups are spaced to allow increased sanitation inside the facility as well.  

The center is built to hold 50 visitors at a time. When the center re-opens for general admittance, it will likely only allow 50% capacity.

With the new precautions also come new benefits for visitors due to a more personal experience.

Pre-registered visits will be styled after the center’s private tours while maintaining the affordable price. Guests start by learning about Sweet Pea and seeing the various exhibits. Visitors will also have time to explore on their own, and kids can do the center’s scavenger hunt. Once the group is done inside the center, the tour moves to the newly remodeled outdoor exhibit where visitors can meet tortoises Safari and Flip Flop.

Center programs, such as Shark School, restarted along with some new programs. The center has launched an Honorary Care Team Member program, which takes visitors behind the scenes of caring for the animals, including Sweet Pea. Participants will also get hands on with tortoises and receive a certificate for their participation.

Come check it out this summer by booking at

Watch the Angels soar

The show will go on for the area’s daring aerial performance team, and there will be more opportunities to see them July 8-11 along our beaches.

To help with social distancing, the Blue Angels will be stretching their annual hometown Pensacola Beach Air Show over four days, thrilling visitors lined up on shore. 

The Blue Angels are the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron stationed at Forrest Sherman Field aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola. These expert pilots perform a coordinated display of aerial maneuvers for audiences across the country, and each summer this beachfront show is their homecoming.

I have been watching them my entire life, and it still takes my breath away as they scream through the sky within inches of one another, barrel rolling and arching under incredible G-Force. It’s truly spectacular.

Due to COVID-19 the show schedule has been modified. According to an official release, the Blues and Santa Rosa Island Authority opted not to cancel the July show.

“The air show program this year is built around social distancing in observance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for the COVID-19 virus,” the release reads. “The program will be a four-day event, and each day will have similar flight maneuvers. This expanded schedule will give the public four different opportunities to view the performances at least once.”
The show footprint has also been modified so as not to create a center point but instead expand the viewing to allow better distancing among viewers on the beach.

Aerial displays will begin at noon each day. In addition to the Blues, other aerial performers will include Veterans Flight, Gary Ward, Kevin Coleman and Skip Stewart.

Additional schedule details will be published by officials at Book your accommodations at

Sea turtle nesting season runs through October 31

While we are all excited to return to the beautiful beaches, social distancing precautions are not the only safety measure we need to keep in mind.

Navarre Beach’s sea turtle nesting season officially started May 1, meaning four species of these endangered reptiles will be coming ashore at night to lay their eggs. We all can do our part to ensure their nesting season is successful while still enjoying all the shore has to offer.

Our local Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center offers an opportunity to learn about these wonderful creatures and even an up-close meeting with Sweet Pea, our resident juvenile sea turtle.

Sea turtles nest under very specific conditions. Light and sound at night can be disorienting to the turtles that spend nearly their entire lives under water. The Conservation Center has a few tips:

  • Knock down sandcastles and fill holes, leaving the sand flat for mother turtles
  • Take all items off the beach each night including beach toys, tents, umbrellas, chairs and especially trash, leaving any item after sunset is a violation of county ordinance
  • Turn out lights or use red light at night to keep from disorienting turtles
  • Educate others on how they can help protect turtles
  • Do not disrupt nest sites or nesting turtles, it is against federal and state law

Fishermen taking advantage of the longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico can also help protect turtles through the responsible pier initiative. If a turtle gets hooked, don’t cut the line. Instead, call the number posted on the pier and rescuers will be there in minutes to assist. 

Sea turtle nesting season also means a rare opportunity: the chance to see a nesting turtle.

If your family experiences this rare opportunity, be cautious not to disturb her.

If a nesting turtle is spotted, onlookers should turn off all lights, be quiet and remain a distance away from the turtle, out of her line of sight. This ensures she feels comfortable to continue nesting, helping carry on her species.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.