A rendering of the improved turtle lagoon exhibit at the Living Coast Discovery Center.
A rendering of the improved Turtle Lagoon exhibit at the Living Coast Discovery Center.

Living Coast Discovery Center announced Thursday it will spend $300,000 to upgrade its popular Turtle Lagoon exhibit at the entrance to the zoo and aquarium on San Diego Bay in Chula Vista.

The project will give the endangered eastern Pacific green sea turtles additional space to swim freely, as well as offer more interactive elements to enhance the learning experience for visitors and students.

Construction begins this week, with completion scheduled for mid-March. During the work, the sea turtles will be temporarily relocated while continuing to be monitored by Living Coast’s animal care team.

The project was made possible by a number of individuals, foundations and companies, including the T. Nelson Family, County Supervisor Greg Cox, The Orca Fund at The San Diego Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Frank and Joan Roseman Family, Ken and Dina Weimer, the Hattie Ettinger Fund at The San Diego Foundation, Susan Fuller, and Marine Group Boat Works.

“We are grateful for the tremendous community support for our beloved sea turtles,” said Executive Director Ben Vallejos. “If not for the guidance of our board of directors and generosity of the Nelson Family and other key members of the community, this would not be possible. The new Turtle Lagoon will significantly enhance the experience for guests of all ages at the Living Coast Discovery Center for many years to come.”

So far the Living Coast has raised over $269,000, or 90 percent of its goal, and is seeking donations for the remainder of the project’s cost. It is the center’s first major capital improvement in a decade.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.