SeaWorld San Diego, operated by Florida-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, has opened a new attraction called Turtle Reef, in which visitors can view more than 60 threatened or endangered species of sea turtles.

The attraction, which broke ground at the Mission Bay theme park in November 2010, officially opened to the public on June 18. According to a park statement, it features a 300,000-gallon, coral-reef themed habitat with adult hawksbill and green sea turtles, some more than 50 years old.

There is also a new ride in the plaza at Turtle Reef called Riptide Rescue, in which passengers spin in gondola-raft boats on a simulated turtle rescue mission.

Thad Dirksen, SeaWorld’s curator of fishes, said hatchlings in the new attraction demonstrate the park’s husbandry practices and its design habitats which allow animals to thrive. The new features also emphasize environmentally safe practices to protect wildlife. The park recently enacted policy banning plastic bags.

The attraction is among a series of recently opened and planned additions to SeaWorld San Diego, including a new roller coaster called Manta that is under construction and scheduled to open in 2012.

— Lou Hirsh