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GALVESTON, Texas Expert insights into one of the world s most endangered sea turtle species, the island premiere of an updated documentary and a private tour of a research facility are in store for participants of Galveston Sea Turtle Saturday on Feb. 19.

A continental breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by presentations at 8:45 a.m. at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Ballroom, Building 216, 4700 Ave. U.

Carole Allen, Gulf office director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, will introduce the Galveston premiere of the documentary The Heartbreak Turtle Today.

This film provides an updated status of the Kemp s ridley sea turtle and debuted with impressive fanfare at the Houston Zoo last fall.

Dr. Joseph Flanagan, Houston Zoo veterinary service director and pro-bono veterinarian for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration turtle lab since its creation in the late 1970s, will share his experiences with captive rearing and rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles.

Lyndsey Howell, research biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Protected Species Galveston branch, will share insights of weekly beach surveys and explain the public s vital role in helping with stranded and nesting turtles.

Event participants will then have a private tour of the NOAA Sea Turtle facility, whereas many as 450 turtles are housed in 30 saltwater tanks.

Known as the turtle barn, the facility is dedicated to rearing threatened and endangered sea turtles in captivity for research.

The event is presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council in partnership with Sea Turtle Restoration Project, National Marine Fisheries and the Houston Zoo.

There are only seven species of sea turtles in the world, and six are classified as threatened or endangered, said Susan Lewis, tourism council board vice president of education and events and longtime turtle barn volunteer.

The Kemp s ridley is the smallest of the species, weighs 80 to 100 pounds on average, and has an oval or heart-shaped carapace, or top shell, between 24 to 28 inches long, she said.

Galveston s turtle barn is the only facility of its kind in the U.S., and because it s no longer open to the public, this event offers a rare opportunity to visit the sea turtle research facility and learn what is being done in our own backyard to help these endangered animals.

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At a glance

WHAT: Galveston Sea Turtle Saturday

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. Feb. 19

WHERE: Flower Garden Banks Sanctuary Ballroom, 4700 Ave. U, Galveston

COST: $5

RESERVATIONS: Call 409-766-7243 by Feb. 14

This story was brought to you thanks to khou.com s partnership with The Galveston County Daily News.

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