The name is changing, but the mission, not so much.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation announced last week that it will now be known as the New York Marine Rescue Center.
The name changed to “better reflect” the direction their efforts are moving toward sea turtle conservation, according to board president Charles Bowman.
He said the center has documented an increase in the seal population in the northeast Atlantic over several years and have now reached stable levels.
But the four species of sea turtle that inhabit New York waters — the green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtles, leatherback and Kemp’s Ridley — are all listed as threatened or endangered.
“With this new direction, we are rebranding our organization with a new name and logo to better reflect the work we do throughout all of New York State and the animals we support to allow us to have the strongest, most effective impact on these important marine conservation initiatives,” Mr. Bowman said in a statement.
The change in conservation status among sea turtles is largely due to entanglement, coastal development, pollution, climate change, human consumption and illegal trade, which all contributed to the shift in focus.
Mr. Bowman said the organization will continue to respond to injured seals and cetaceans when necessary, while increasing support for endangered sea turtles.
Renovations to their East Main Street facility are also planned to increase public access to viewing the rescue center’s operation.
The 23-year-old organization has responded to more than 5,000 reports of stranded marine animals and successfully rehabilitated and released over 1,000 seals, sea turtles and cetaceans.
Officials at the organization say the name change “better reflects the conservation needs of the Greater Atlantic Region,” according to a press release.
The organization is the only facility in New York State authorized by the federal government to rehabilitate and release seals and sea turtles rescued in New York waters.
Their first event under their new name is a public sea turtle release that was held Friday at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.