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Journey into the World of the Sea Turtle
Conservationist and Acclaimed Author
Mary Alice Monroe Shares Turtle Tales

Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 9th, 2007) – April is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season, and the Tennessee Aquarium is celebrating with a fascinating look at endangered Loggerhead and Green sea turtles. Mary Alice Monroe, acclaimed author, dedicated conservationist and board member of the South Carolina Aquarium, will share her experiences as a turtle team volunteer and describe how she uses her passion for nature to develop themes for her popular books.

Monroe has just recently released two new books. Swimming Lessons is Monroe’s latest novel. In the follow-up to The Beach House, Ms. Monroe returns to South Carolina’s breathtaking Isle of Palms in a heartwarming novel that unravels a tale of how lives can change over one magical summer. It has been five years since the original turtle lady, Miss Lovie Rutledge, passed away but her legacy lives on with some special women, especially Toy and her daughter, young Little Lovie. After Toy rescues a sick sea turtle on the beach, she begins a turtle hospital with the help of her boss, Ethan. As the summer progresses and the turtles take their measured steps toward healing and freedom, Toy, Cara, Flo and Emmi must find their own strength to face their fears and move courageously toward their futures.

Throughout the novel, Toy assembles a journal of photographs and sketches for her young daughter, depicting the summer they spent tending the turtles. Mary Alice Monroe’s first children’s book, Turtle Summer, A Journal For My Daughter is born! This is the journal Toy wrote for Lovie and is a companion book to the novel. Using original photographs by Barbara Bergwerf, this scrapbook-journal explains the nesting cycle of loggerhead sea turtles and the natural life along the southeastern coast, including local shore birds, shells, and a sea turtle hospital. Adults and children will enjoy the images, information, and journal with or without reading Swimming Lessons.

Meet this New York Times best-selling author along with Nikki Ellis, an aquarist with the Tennessee Aquarium, who will talk about her career and caring for the Aquarium’s two Green sea turtles. The Tennessee Aquarium features two Green sea turtles — a small injured turtle in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit as well as a large male in the Secret Reef that was acquired from Marineland Florida.

Monroe and Ellis will help kids and adults to discover fun turtle facts, explore why sea turtles are endangered and learn how turtle teams patrol beaches to help in the survival of these engaging creatures.
Kids can take home a Sea Turtle Activity Book by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and all are invited to stay for a book signing by Mary Alice Monroe with Swimming Lessons and Turtle Summer available for purchase.

This free event takes place Thursday, April 19th from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Tennessee Aquarium Auditorium. Register on-line at or call 267-FISH.

Sea Turtle Fast Facts:

- All eight species of sea turtles are listed as either threatened or endangered.

- Turtle nesting areas are becoming scarce due to beach development and disturbances.

- Some sea turtles die when they eat trash. Leatherbacks are especially susceptible to ingesting plastic, mistaking it for jellyfish.

- Marine garbage can also entangle sea turtles causing them to drown.

- Green sea turtles hatchlings are just 2 inches long, but adults can grow to more than 3 feet long and weigh 300-350 pounds.

- Adult green turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they are herbivorous, feeding primarily on seagrasses and algae.

- Pacific loggerheads migrate over 7,500 miles between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the coast of Mexico.

- Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch.


The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $10.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $7.95 per adult and $5.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.

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