Chula Vista will be getting a precious wildlife gem and the public can meet her Saturday.
Sapphire, a Loggerhead sea turtle, will become a “wildlife ambassador” at the Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium on San Diego Bay. Sapphire, who was injured twice, will arrive from the Florida Keys on a chartered flight donated by FedEx.
Sapphire, a 130-pound female Loggerhead, is thought to be roughly a teen-ager. She had been cared for at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. more than a year after being found ill and floating, covered in sea grass and algae.
She first came to authorities’ attention in February 2010, when she was rescued after being injured by a boat propeller. She recovered at that time and was returned to the wild.
Chula Vista’s Living Coast center welcomed her after the Turtle Hospital found that Sapphire, after her second ailment, wouldn’t be safe on her own in the wild.
Sapphire is expected in Chula Vista Thursday, and will be available for public viewing beginning Saturday at 10 a.m.
“Sapphire is a real gem with an inspirational story of survival and team-work,” said Sherry Lankston, of Living Coast, in a news release. “She will serve as an important educational ambassador to showcase the power of conservation efforts around the world to protect these amazing coastal creatures and their habitats.”
Those who nursed Sapphire back to health and are now giving her a home also hope she can call attention to the dangers to sea turtles from boat strikes.
Visitors to the Chula Vista center can see Sapphire in her new home from the large viewing area for a 21,000-gallon ocean water tank in the Living Coast’s Shark and Ray Experience.
All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are listed as endangered or threatened as part of the Endangered Species Act. Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles are the more common species found in San Diego and are stars in the Living Coast’s warmer-water Sea Turtle Lagoon exhibit.