Meet our animal team members up close and personal in the Sea Island Nature Center, which is brimming with species native to our area. From our expansive salt marshes to the open Atlantic, our team of naturalists will educate you on the ins and outs of these incredible animals. Feel the leathery skin of an Atlantic Stingray. Witness a Spiny Soft Shell Turtle stretch its neck toward the surface for air. Count the minutes that the Eastern Mud Turtles stays submerged. You’ll leave in wonder and amazement. And pick up a fun fact or two to share back home!
Eastern Box Turtle
Carlton is an Eastern Box turtle who has called Sea Island home for just over two years. He is one of the nature team’s favorite animals for guests to meet and greet when visiting the Nature Center. He is about seven years old and full grown. Unlike many of our aquatic education animals, Carlton lives on land and enjoys a healthy diet of fruits and veggies. Guests are always surprised to see his bright array of colors. With a shell and scales that show off red, yellow, and orange hues, he appears to be quite the exotic turtle. In reality, however, he is a native reptile that can be found right here in Georgia.
Spiny Softshell Turtle
As a spiny softshell turtle, Pancake is one of the Sea Island Nature Center’s unique looking creatures. With her long neck, flat shell, and snorkel-like nose, she can often be seen burrowing beneath the sand or splashing about in her fresh water exhibit. She can live to be fifty years old in the wild and can be found in ponds, streams, and rivers across most of the United States. Pancake has been one of the nature team’s education animals for over seven years and continues to be one of our most interesting.
Our resident Atlantic stingray who lives in our touch tank is often the star of the show when guests walk into the Sea Island Nature Center. Rosie has had her stinging barb safely removed so that guests who visit can touch her and get a hands-on experience with our native marine life. She enjoys being fed shrimp and showing off during the Camp Cloister nature experience “Sting Ray Day.”
Tiana is the Sea Island Nature Center’s favorite amphibian! Visit in the spring and summer and you will hear frogs and toads alike singing their songs by night. Tiana is a southern toad, a species that can be found in the wild right here on Sea Island. She loves pine forests and moist habitats, where she can feed on earthworms and other invertebrates. In the nature center, Camp Cloister kids get to meet Tiana and learn more about her species on “Amphibian Day.”
Louie and Malik
Small Diamondback Terrapins
Meet Louie and Malik! As two of the smallest inhabitants of the Sea Island Nature Center, these one-year-old diamondback terrapins are full of energy. They are known for their love of the brackish water (a mixture of both salt and fresh water) that they call home. As young terrapins, they still have a lot of growing to do before they reach their maximum size of nine inches long.
Terry and Penny
Large Diamondback Terrapins
Terry and Penny are Sea Island’s resident diamondback terrapins. Adorned with speckled scaly skin, large jaws, and ring patterns on their shells, they are a sight to see. They have been residents of the Sea Island Nature Center for five years, since they were newborn hatchlings. Diamondback terrapin are a protected species that reside in our coastal marshes enjoying a diet of shrimp, clams, crabs, and periwinkle snails.
Elvis and Priscilla
Eastern Mud Turtles
Say hello to Elvis and Pricilla, two of Sea Island’s native fresh water turtles. Eastern Mud Turtles are found throughout the southeast but occasionally seen as far north as New Jersey. When these two were first introduced to the Nature Center, they were barely larger than a penny but eventually will be around four inches long. Despite their small size, they can stay under water for up to 20 minutes and dive to depths up to nine feet!
Alligator Snapping Turtle
Meet Bowser, the oldest of our resident animals in the Sea Island Nature Center. Bowser is an Alligator Snapping Turtle who has been an education animal here for over seven years. He is a fresh water omnivorous species that hunts fish, amphibians, and small alligators in the wild. While Bowser may look big compared to our other turtles in the Nature Center, he still has a lot of growing ahead of him. In their natural habitat, these turtles can live to be 120 years old and weigh up to 220 pounds!
Introducing Owlivia! Though she only stands at roughly 7 inches tall, she possesses one of the largest personalities in the Nature Center. She may be difficult to spot during the day because her species is highly nocturnal, becoming active at dusk. Listen for soft trills and whinny-like calls rather than a "screech!"