What a “Turtletastic” Thursday!!! Today we went to Panacea, FL and spent the day at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. We were greeted by our tour guide, Leslie Breland and intern, Anthony. Leslie first took us to the touch tanks and inside the lab. We touched and played with crabs, starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, urchins and so many more small critters! After a visit with some nurse sharks and sea bass, we then went into a special behind the scenes quarantined room to see 2 Kemp’s Ridley turtles that were being released later in the day. (More on that later!) We then continued through the lab and saw some jellies, ctenophores, corals, fiddler crabs (my personal favorite,) logger head sea turtles, blue crabs, and horseshoe crabs. Whew! After our lab tour, we went to the “Living Dock.” At the dock our girls picked up stringers, looking for critters! We found teeny tiny crabs, sea squirts, and jellies! We talked about estuaries and their relevance, salt marshes and their communities, including plants and animals found in them. We then went to the marsh and went seine net fishing! We found silver sided fish, pin fish, pipe fish, crabs, and more hermit crabs! All of this led us to the most exciting part of our day! We went to Shell Point to observe the releasing of the 2 Kemp’s Ridley turtles we saw earlier in quarantine. Their names are Weezer and Renegade. As we were waiting for the release to occur, we were invited by a staff member to assist in the release of both turtles! We immediately accepted! We got to take pictures with Jack Rudloe, the founder and owner of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, the staff and the volunteers/interns, and both turtles! Then we followed Jack, while he was holding the turtles (one at a time) down into the ocean where they were released back into the wild. We may even get a spot on the news tonight at 5:30 or 11:00 on WTXL/ABC News. All in all it was a day we all will never forget and an amazing opportunity our girls will be talking about for years to come! We can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of camp for summer 2018!