Friday, May 3, 2019

SeaWorld San Antonio Debuts Turtle Reef Themed Area + Two New Family Rides

© SeaWorld San Antonio
SeaWorld San Antonio has marked their 5th consecutive year of park expansions with today's grand opening of Turtle Reef.  The new themed area not only features a unique way to view endangered and rescued sea turtles, but also adds two new thrilling rides for families to enjoy.

A major initiative behind the expansion is to help educate guests on the human impact on oceans.  “Ocean pollution, oil spills and habitat degradation are some of the biggest challenges facing sea turtles, and Turtle Reef provides an immersive opportunity for guests to learn how they can help the species,” said SeaWorld and Aquatica San Antonio park president Carl Lum. “We are excited to showcase a species that has never been featured before at SeaWorld San Antonio, while educating guests about our mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide.”

© SeaWorld San Antonio
The Turtle Reef exhibit features a 126,000 gallon coral reef-themed biodynamic environment that is home to multiple species, like the friendly sea turtle seen above.  It is one of many "rescued and non-releasable sea turtles in SeaWorld’s world-class care, including endangered green sea turtles, and Big Mama, a 250-pound loggerhead sea turtle rescued offshore in the Gulf of Mexico after sustaining significant injuries to her front and back flippers."  Guests are able to visit with the turtles via a giant viewing window at the base of the exhibit.

The entire area is "designed as a natural biofiltration system to build a near natural, environmentally based recirculating filtration system that attracts wildlife and reduces water and energy consumption in the park, enabling the park to further its eco-friendly mission."  Specifically in Turtle Reef, seawater is filtered through a fabricated salt marsh grass wetland, similar to how water is filtered in the environment, and returned to the habitat.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Two new family rides have also made their debut as a part of the Turtle Reef themed section.  Above is the Sea Swinger, a high swinging pendulum ride.   Sixteen riders are seated at the base of the pendulum as it begins to spin and swing high into the sky.  The passengers' feet dangle below them as they are offered aerial views of the park below them.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
The area's second new ride is named Riptide Rescue, seen above.  Themed around a fast race to rescue sea turtles in need, riders are seated in individual Sea Rescue boats.  The boats lift and spin on large arms, giving a maximum of 24 riders per cycle a feeling of twirling and diving through the ocean.

The new area will also benefit the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Amos Rehabilitation Keep program as five percent of all sales of turtle related merchandise will be funded directly to the organization.  The non-profit's main mission is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, birds and tortoises found along the South Texas coast.