sea turtle

Why Crowds Flock to Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Releases

With a crowd of more than 400 people cheering around them, Mayor Mort and Reilly scuttled across the warm powder-like sand of Juno Beach. As they drew closer to the ocean, the briny foam of the ocean teased their beaks.

With an abrupt toss of the waves—and roar of applause from the spectators—the loggerhead sea turtles were back in the their native underwater world. In the far distance toward the horizon, the surface of the churning Atlantic shimmered.

Sea turtle release by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Photo courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Sea turtle release by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Photo courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

The Valentine’s Day release of the pair may have ended with a short trot to the water, but it was a scuttle some time in the making—just months before both sea turtles were found sickly and on the verge of death.

Reilly, the smaller of the two, was found back in October in a power plant canal in St. Lucie county. The adolescent turtle had numerous barnacles embedded on its body, indications of prolonged inactivity due to anemia. Feeble and emaciated, veterinarians at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach deemed Reilly to be chronically debilitated.

Mayor Mort, who was named in loving memory of Juno Beach’s late mayor, Mort Levine, was also discovered in St. Lucie. Mort, like Reilly, was lethargic and anemic, but unlike his younger counterpart didn’t just have barnacles (hundreds of them!) on his carapace, but also had leeches too.

Thousands of leech teeth were puncturing Mort’s shell, sucking blood. Heavy infestations of such organisms can be a death sentence for a sea turtle.

At the Loggerhead Center, both turtles were immersed in fresh water for the first few days of their stay, a treatment that causes many of the parasites to detach. Since neither seemed to have much of an appetite when they first arrived, they were given parenteral nutrition—intravenous sustenance—until they were able to eat again for themselves.

Mayor Mort in his "hospital room." Photo courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Mayor Mort in his “hospital room.” The black object on his back is the tracking system the center uses to chart his course in the wild. Photo courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Slowly, over the course of many weeks, and with the added help of antibiotics and iron supplements, the pair began to show progress in their healing. When they were finally released earlier this month, Mayor Mort and Reilly became part of the dozens of sea turtles—like Betty White, Nemo, and Dory—that the Loggerhead Center successfully rehabilitated this past year.

The beach releases, which are free to attend, have become nothing short of a spectacle for many locals, such as Sarah McDonald, a student at Florida Atlantic University’s Honor’s College. She says that every release is an emotional experience for her.

“It’s exciting to follow [a sea turtle’s] whole story and road to recovery,” she says. “As a marine biology major, you learn a lot about the disruption that mankind can put on our oceans, so it’s a great feeling to see the other side of that: being able to help rather than harm the animal.”

Over the years the rehabilitation efforts have not only helped the turtles, but have also helped catapult the Loggerhead Center to local stardom. In 2016 alone the facility welcomed more than 300,000 visitors, many from around the world—that is as many as the Perez Art Museum receives annually!

As more people come to learn about the center’s mission to help marine animals (through e-blasts, social media channels, and news stories) the attendance of each release has steadily grown.

Hannah Deadman, a spokesperson for the marine life center, says that the large turnouts are a testament of the local community’s support for sea turtles and coastal environments.

As to why many of the observers of the releases are regulars, Deadman tells Boca Raton the reason she believes the events continue to be so popular: “Watching a wild animal return to its home never gets old!”

As for Mayor Mort and Reilly, the duo are expected to do well back in their aquamarine world. “Since we have medically cleared the turtles for release, we are hopeful that the turtles will do well in their wild ocean home—just as sea turtles should be,” Deadman says.

Mayor Mort was tagged with a satellite tracker before release so that biologists can see the turtle’s movements in the wild. If you’re interested in checking out how Mort is faring out in the open ocean, you can so do by visiting:

Jonathan Kendall is a published writer with bylines in the Miami New Times and the Broward and Palm Beach New Times. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman Fellows.
free yoga

Free Yoga This Weekend at Delray Marketplace Amphitheater

free yoga

Local yoga instructor and physical therapist Bea Gruman will be teaching a free yoga class at the Delray Marketplace Amphitheater, at 14851 Lyons Road, Delray Beach, Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m.

The event, called Yoga in the Park, is for all levels of yoga experience. People only need to bring a mat and towel.

While the class is free, any donations made at the event will go to support Lynn Cancer Institute and Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

The inspiration for the event came from a local network of teens, called Teens of Pink Ribbon. Teens of Pink Ribbon was founded in 2014 by Fern Duberman, a Boca Raton resident, professional interior designer and cancer awareness advocate. The group has evolved into a growing network of local teens and adults committed to wellness, education and fundraising, according to Duberman.

“[Teens of Pink Ribbon] is dedicated to advancing awareness and education about cancer, genetics, lifestyle choices, prevention, treatments and technological innovations [for] teens and adults, as well as fundraising to support local medical facilities and resources,” Duberman says. “This specific event was created by the teens, and Delray Marketplace went along with the idea and donated the space!”

Boca Raton resident and yoga instructor Katherine Karageorges Sharp, who is a cancer survivor, will close Yoga in the Park with meditation.

“My yoga practice really brought me to my meditation practice,” Sharp tells “Since beginning a regular meditation practice, I feel happier, lighter and more grounded. I am less reactive to external events—things I cannot control.”

Gruman teaches yoga at Synergy Fitness Boca, Life Time Athletic and Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton.

For more information about Teens of Pink Ribbon, go to: For more about Yoga in the Park, email Duberman at

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on

2017 SOBEWFF Kicked off in Fort Lauderdale This Year

SOBEWFF kicks off with Chef Anne Burrell

Anne Burrell and fans. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

Anne Burrell and fans. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

First of all, it didn’t rain. And for the kickoff event of the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Wednesday, that was a big deal. (Last year was a different story.) Celebrity chef Anne Burrell—with her gorgeous snowy hair and big smile—was at the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale. It was a beautifully cool night because the rain had moved through, and there were 15 restaurants kicking it up a notch.

In addition to starting the entire SOBEWFF, this was part of the Fort Lauderdale series, and it filled everyone with great food, good music and the longest craft cocktail line I’ve ever seen.

Grilled octopus. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

Mediterranean octopus. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

I stuck with the Whispering Angel rose, but made the rounds of all the food tables. Lots of seafood. Lots of cobia (?!), some interesting combos (Wild Sea Oysters, scallops and seared monkfish liver, for example) that tasted great, and one table I went back to for seconds. And thirds. It was Executive Chef Jeff Pfeiffer’s Mediterranean octopus from Lobster Bar Sea Grille, and it was amazing. Imagine grilled Spanish octopus, pickled red onion, extra virgin olive oil, Santorini capers and Greek olives. A perfect bite, with the tender grilled octopus, the zip from the onion, the bite from the olive and the slight pop of the salty capers.

Jonathan Capo and stracciatella. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

Jonathan Capo and his stracciatella. Photo by Lynn Kalber.

Another bite worth mentioning was Executive Chef Jonathan Capo’s Stracciatella with heirloom tomato, fresh berries and a balsamic fluid gel that sounded medical, but really tied the dish together with a sweeter note. That was Capo and his crew at Steak 954, and they wowed diners for the second year in a row.

The lobster toast from Kuro (in the Seminole Hard Rock Casino), with Chef Alex Becker, is worth mentioning, and was worth waiting for.

So was the kickoff of SOBEWFF.

Hungry for more food news? Visit our food page, and subscribe to the magazine for the most delicious food coverage of Boca and beyond. 

Lynn Kalber wasn’t born in Boca Raton, but she attended elementary through high school there, so she might as well have been. She’s a graduate of the University of Florida and has been in journalism most of her life, including 26 years at The Palm Beach Post. She’s written feature and food stories, and edited food copy among other jobs, including blogging about wine (The Swirl Girls). Her husband is writer and author Scott Eyman. They live in West Palm Beach with an assortment of cats and dogs.

Anti-Bullying Martial Arts Class Free for Local Kids

Bullying is a scary thought for kids, parents and grandparents. I know that, as a grandparent, I’d like to do something to help my grandson feel less vulnerable and more empowered in school.

Well, here’s an idea. And it’s free.


The Institute of Human Performance (IHP) is offering a free anti-bullying class, Saturday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. to noon, with Danillo “INDIO” Villefort, a professional mixed martial artist, world-class judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

The class is designed to empower children, ages 5 years and older, by combining self-defense skills, self-awareness and self-confidence, Villefort says.

Villefort doesn’t teach these classes because he was bullied when he was a kid. He does it because he was the bully.

“It’s something that makes me feel really ashamed.” Villefort says. “That’s why I teach kids how to protect themselves. It’s the very [least] I can do. My real mission is to create bully awareness and turn a bully into a shepherd.”

There’s more to the February 25 class at IHP. Instead of sitting around and waiting for their kids to finish the program, parents who attend can work out with an IHP trainer for free. IHP performance coach Marc Saint-Preux is offering a free functional training class to keep parents fit, while their children learn to bully-proof their lives.

To register for the free class, call Villefort at 954/290-1376 or IHP at 561/620-9556. To learn more about Villefort, go to

IHP is at 1950 NW Boca Raton Blvd., Boca Raton.

Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on

Color Your World—With a New Soulmate

Arielle Ford & Brian (husband)

Arielle Ford and her husband, Brian.

For those of you still smarting from not having your very own Valentine this year, there may be a way to get the wheels in motion for next year—by coloring. Yes, you heard us right. A brand new coloring book (fueled by positive advice and affirmations) has just been written by former South Florida resident and relationship expert Arielle Ford (above, with husband Brian)—and it is intended to help you “manifest your soulmate” by “using the timeless principles of the Law of Attraction” by coloring in romantic artwork—and contemplating the accompanying message of each illustration.

For example, the coloring book, Inkspirations, love by design, published by HCI in Deerfield, begins with the notion of intention (“Live in the knowingness that you deserve to have loving committed relationship”) through belief (that your soulmate exists) and on through the stages of trust, surrender, clarity, making your soulmate wish list and more.

Ford will present her new book, which she calls a “transformational coloring book” this Saturday, February 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the downtown Boca library.

Ford is a speaker, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and the producer and author of 10 books including The Soulmate Secret: Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction. Her latest book is Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmate.

The event promises to be interactive and we say you have to start somewhere. So color yourself hopeful and get back in the game. For more information, visit the event page here.

downtown bbq throwdown

See Bobby Flay With Your Own Eyeballs at Downtown BBQ Throwdown Tomorrow

I feel like there’s no good barbeque near me.

And that makes me very sad. I live way out west in Wellington right now, and all we have out there are chain restaurants like Smokey Bones and Park Avenue Grill.

If you find yourself in a similar BBQ-devoid, soulless vacuum of suburbia, then you may consider going to the 2017 Downtown BBQ Throwdown at Mizner Park Amphitheater tomorrow, Feb. 18. I love going to Mizner, eating good barbeque and MEETING BOBBY FLAY. That’s right, folks, the king—of literally all food, ever—himself  Bobby Flay will host and judge the competition, with over 40 local chefs competing for the title of  Grand Champion and the opportunity to compete in the 30th Annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue.

downtown bbq throwdown

Photo provided by At Large PR.


The event goes on all day. You can purchase finger-licking BBQ, meet local celebs and chefs, drink and more. It’s chaired by Miguel and Denese Brito, whose vision is to support the local community, according to a press release.

The throwdown benefits our bellies as well as eight local charities: The Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Boca Helping Hands, Brothers of St. Gregory’s, Family Promise, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, KidSanctuary, Love Boca and The Spirit of Giving.

Love Boca Outreach Ministries at last year's Downtown BBQ Throwdown. Photo provided by

Love Boca Outreach Ministries at last year’s Downtown BBQ Throwdown. Photo provided by

Another, equally important celebrity chef (in my opinion) will prepare an invitation-only farewell brunch on Sunday. That chef is Anne Burrell. So cheers to the lucky, invite-only few. You haunt my dreams and make me drool with envy. 🙂

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door and $10 for children ages 9-12. They can be purchased here. Children 8 and under may enter for free with a canned good donation.

BBQ from last year's Downtown BBQ Throwdown. Photo provided by

BBQ from last year’s Downtown BBQ Throwdown. Photo provided by

Shayna is a 20-something sorta-recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. Most of her time is spent fawning over cats and kittens; cooking food at home for her family; and observing Florida’s greatest asset: nature.

Holiday! Celebrate! Holiday The Turtle to Return Home Tomorrow

This Thursday will be a Holiday like no other.

It was Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center got a call from Florida Fish and Wildlife asking if it could take in Holiday, a loggerhead sea turtle found at a Port St. Lucie power plant with a hook caught in her throat.


A large fishing hook with line still attached lodged in Holiday the loggerhead’s esophagus. All photos provided by Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

“We have no idea how long the hook had been in there, so we had no idea how long it had been affecting her,” says Dr. Maria Chadam, a veterinarian at Gumbo Limbo.

Holiday was slightly malnourished, but otherwise a relatively healthy turtle (with the exception of the fishing hook) when she was admitted. Chadam was able to remove the hook from the turtle’s esophagus, and the sub-adult has made a steady recovery since. Holiday has gained about 10 pounds since being admitted, and she takes an interest in people who peek through the window to her tank, swimming over to greet them.

Holiday after her surgery.

Holiday after her surgery.

“She’s definitely ready to go,” Chadam says.

And go she will. The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center will release Holiday the loggerhead back into the ocean at Spanish River Park at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 16.

“We can take the loggerheads right across to the ocean,” Gumbo Limbo Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Coordinator Whitney Crowder says. Even though Holiday was found in Port St. Lucie, she’ll be just fine in the Boca water because loggerheads aren’t as area-specific as other types of turtles.

A happy and healthy Holiday!

A happy and healthy Holiday!

The public turtle releases can attract up to 1,500 spectators. In 2016, Crowder says the nature center rescued 107 turtles and that turtle populations are rising.

“It’s our payday, being able to release them back into the ocean,” Crowder says.

Shayna is a 20-something sorta-recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. Most of her time is spent fawning over cats and kittens; cooking food at home for her family; and observing Florida’s greatest asset: nature.

The Eagle That Ended the 2017 Allianz Championship

How Scott McCarron Won This Year’s Top Prize


Scott McCarron with the first place trophy at Allianz. Photo by Charlie Anderson.

As the golfers roved along the sprawling green, they were followed by a whispering legion of pastel fans resembling Easter eggs—women dressed in pink and green Lilly Pulitzer wrap dresses, men in varying shades of blue T-shirts and khaki shorts.

Swing after swing, applause after applause (and occasional collective groans), this year’s Allianz Championship, which took place on the Old Course at Broken Sound this weekend, culminated to three players by Sunday afternoon: Kenny Perry, Carlos Franco and Scott McCarron.

Though the trio was tied by the time the players reached the 18th and final segment of the tournament—a par-5 hole—only one of them turned the ball into a winning eagle (two strokes under par) when he struck it.

McCarron, 51, looked across the 507-yard green, steadied his hands, and with a confident stroke, whipped his club through the air. The ball took flight in the sky. The setting sun’s glare, however, blinded him from seeing exactly where it landed.

“As soon as I hit it, I couldn’t see it at all, just went right in the sun so I had no idea—but it felt good,” McCarron says.

Good it was.

Though blinded, McCarron could hear the crowd in the far distance—the people surrounding the 18th cup “oohed” and “aahed,” then enthusiastically applauded. The ball landed about seven feet from the cup!

Once on the hill, surrounded by the grandstands filled with breathless spectators, McCarron tapped the eagle and sunk it into the hole, earning the first place title and a $262,500 prize. It was his second victory in the last four champion events for Allianz champ McCarron.

Immediately after winning, his wife, Jenny, leapt into his arms. “All wins are exciting, but this one, to be able to finish it off the way I did, [was] really something special,” McCarron says. “It was a very good day.”

Beyond McCarron’s win, this year’s Allianz Championship (pronounced: Ahh-lee-ahnz) also won a new distinction. Rebecca Seelig, a spokesperson for event says that the 2017 Allianz Championship at Broken Sound had the largest turnout on record. “Attendance was 12,000 on Friday, 14,000 on Saturday and 16k on Sunday,” she says.

Photo by Jonathan Kendall.

Photo by Jonathan Kendall.

Jonathan Kendall is a published writer with bylines in the Miami New Times and the Broward and Palm Beach New Times. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied journalism under several Nieman Fellows.