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J Longboat Key Turtle Watch
May through October marks sea-turtle nesting season when females come onto the beach and lay their eggs, hatchlings emerge from their nests and crawl toward the Gulf of Mexico, and adult turtles return to the site where they hatched. The Longboat Key Turtle Watch is a group of dedi- cated volunteers who monitor turtle nests on the north end of the Key. (The Mote folks monitor the south end and lead nesting walks.) Volun- teers stroll the beach at 6:30 am several morn- ings a week. Only one in 1,000 baby sea turtles survives to maturity, so Longboaters go that extra mile to help them along—like turning off any lights on or near the beach after dark (baby turtles are programmed to follow the moonlight into the water) and keeping their distance when observing this miracle of nature at work. d
J Mote Marine Aquarium & Research Laboratory
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota
Get up close and personal with a starfish. Watch a shark have lunch. Say hello to a manatee or two. The Mote, home to more than 100 species of marine life, is located on City Island, just over the New Pass Bridge on south Longboat Key. Eco-Boat excursions of Sarasota Bay are also available. The Laboratory is an independent nonprofit organization with seven research centers and an educational division.
J Ringling Museum of Art 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota 941-359-5700 /
Created in 1927 as the legacy of John and Ma- bel Ringling for the people of Florida, this stunning museum complex includes an eclectic collection of Baroque art, the Circus Museum, the opulent man- sion Ca’ D’Zan (which translates to “House of John” in Venetian dialect), the historic Asolo Theatre and 60 acres of gardens.
J South Florida Museum 201 10th St. W., Bradenton 941-746-2556 /
Learn about prehistoric Florida, and the region from the pleistocene to the present or visit the out- er limits of the galaxy in the state-of-the-art digital planetarium at the largest natural and cultural his- tory museum on the Gulf Coast.
J Big Cat Habitat 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota 941-371-6377 /
Visit this nonprofit haven for big cats, bears, and other wild creatures in need. The goal is to educate the public by building appreciation for animals and stressing the importance of habitat preservation. Watch training and meet the furry and feathered residents in a safe environment.
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