The Turtle Lady of Juno Beach.

The one person who gave me the greatest appreciation for undersea life was Eleanor Fletcher, affectionately known as “The Turtle Lady” because of her extensive work in saving sea turtles. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her.
I first met Mrs. Fletcher when I was a kid while growing up in Juno Beach. One of the main events in town was going to the beach and watching her dig up a sea turtle nest and releasing the baby turtles. The sight of dozens and dozens of tiny turtles scurrying along the sand to the sea was unforgettable.
All she did was protect sea turtles. Part of her job would be to walk along the beach and mark sea turtle nests with the date the eggs were laid. That way she would know when the eggs hatch and be there to dig up the nest and help release the baby turtles. There were plenty of times when she saved entire turtle nests by digging up the eggs and carefully storing them in a Styrofoam cooler until they hatched.
To help educate the public about the sea turtles, she set up a children’s museum at her home that was decorated with specimens of her work. Among the more interesting specimens in her collection were preserved unborn turtles with interesting deformities, such as one with two heads and another one with one eye.
Later, she planned on moving the museum to an abandoned motel up the road along the town’s beach. You could park in the parking lot and then walk through an underground tunnel that takes you right to the beach. A perfect spot for a museum.
It was at this point that I started working with her more and more frequently, from helping her taking care of some captive sea turtles and marking turtle nests, to helping her relocate her collection to the new museum. The more I worked with her, the more she taught me about sea turtles and other forms of marine life, effectively helping me develop an appreciation of life under the sea. I don’t think I could develop this appreciation in any class at school.
Today, the museum is still going strong, continuing to protect sea turtles and to educate visitors so that they too can help. Next time you’re passing through the Palm Beaches, be sure to stop by and visit. Your trip to Florida will not be complete without it.
Click here to visit the museum’s web site.

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This picture of me was taken by Mrs. Fletcher on February 4, 1984. I am holding a green sea turtle in my left hand and a loggerhead in my right. In front of me is a gopher turtle in its pen.
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