No matter what happens the first and second time, the third time isn’t always “the charm.”
A small Loggerhead arrived at our hospital a few weeks ago sporting a tag on her rear flipper, and also showing the scars from where a second tag had been on her other flipper. Turtles that are tagged have obviously been caught somewhere at sometime for some reason. Turns out that Griffin got her jewelry last year at the Nuclear Power Plant in Brunswick County. Could it be that she liked those sparkly baubles so much she went back to replace the one that was lost?
It’s not unusual to get calls from power plants about sea turtles that have found their way into channels and intake/discharge areas around these facilities. She may have been trying to escape the rapidly cooling coastal waters. No matter what the reason, her plan was flawed because when she was found she was well on her way to becoming very seriously cold-stunned. Even a little bit of a chill can slow a turtle down, and Griffin was in an especially precarious position because alligators like to hang out around power plant ponds.
Luckily for Griffin the personnel at the nuclear facility do a great job of spotting and rescuing wayward sea turtles. It wasn’t long before she was out of the water and out of danger from any marauding alligators looking for an easy meal. Once in our hands she was gradually warmed up to a more comfortable sea turtle temperature and started on our protocol of antibiotics (just in case), daily baths and hearty meals.
Now we happen to think all sea turtles are the most beautiful creatures around, but Griffin has enthralled us with her inquisitive personality and a face that goes way beyond endearing. We just can’t help hanging out around her tank, giving her extra attention and blubbering, “Aww, you’re so cute!” While she looks forward to a quick recovery and (hopefully) a long and happy turtle life, there is another side to this story.
Rarely do we give a patient a “people name.” Not long ago we received a donation for our “Family Giving Challenge” in memory of a young child named Griffin. The letter that came with the donation tugged at our hearts. In 2009 Griffin’s family rented a house here on Topsail. After a visit to our hospital Griffin began to take a deep and continuing interest in marine life and conservation. He won an award for a book on sea turtles he wrote while in third grade; his backpack was crammed with books on marine life and he spent hours exploring tidal pools and wondering at the creatures in them. He continued to tell everyone about his visit to our hospital and how one day he would “work” there and save sea turtles.
Tragedy struck in 2011 when ten-year-old Griffin and his twin brother Nick were injured an auto accident. Unfortunately Griffin did not survive. Working through their grief the family remembered Griffin’s passion and commitment to help protect and study marine life. His mother, Britt “saw again the wonder in his eyes as we met your patients that summer.” They immediately knew that helping our sea turtles would be what Griffin would want them to do.
We have named this feisty little Loggerhead in memory of Griffin. The family has banded together to adopt her and plan to return to Topsail when she is released. We hope that it will offer some comfort when they watch Griffin the turtle swim free and happy.
We’ve issued a BOLO…
…for cold-stunned turtles. This crazy weather has us confused, so you can imagine what it’s doing to our favorite reptiles. Our residents and visitors have always been our eyes and ears outside of our hospital. Now that the winter weather has settled in, please BOLO for any turtle you see floating in the water, stranded on beaches or in the marshes. The turtle may appear to be dead (and very cold) but there is a chance that it’s cold-stunned and can be successfully rehabilitated with immediate and proper care. If possible, pick up the turtle and place it in a sheltered area. Do not try to warm the turtle. Call the Wildlife Resources Emergency number at 252-241-7367 (24/7). They will make arrangements to have the turtle picked up. If you are unable to get through to them you may call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880, Jean at 910-470-2800, or the turtle hospital at 910-328-3377. All sea turtles are federally protected and harassing or harming them in any way will result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
Hospital gift shop annex open on Tuesdays now through December 18
Every Tuesday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. you can stop by our hospital for some early holiday shopping at our gift shop annex. Knock on the door and ask for Peggy. She’ll escort you to the shop and be your personal shopping advisor on all sea turtle gifts. We have a nice supply of T’s (long and short sleeve), hoodies, hats, visors, bags and other “stuff.” Please be prepared to pay with cash or by check; we cannot accept credit cards at the annex. You can visit our website (www.seaturtlehospital.org) to preview the items and prepare your shopping list before your visit.
Don’t know what to get someone who has everything?
If you’re looking for a unique gift for the holidays, or any other occasion check out the patients on our current “Adopt-A-Sea-Turtle” list. Your contribution pays for their care during their rehabilitation, and you’ll be invited to their release once they’re cleared to go. There are levels of adoption to fit any budget, so click the adoption link on our website to ensure that your favorite turtle(s) and your family and friends don’t wake up to an empty Christmas stocking.
You can also check out the details on how you can earn a place of honor on the wall of our new hospital as part of our “Family Giving Challenge.” Visit our website: www.seaturtlehospital.org.
Questions, comments, suggestions?
Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this column to me at email@example.com. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address. If your e-mail address has recently changed, please send me your new one so I can update my master list. You can also access the last newsletter from our website. The next issue, “How We Spent Our Year” is in development and will include information on the progress of our move into the new facility. This column appears every other week until next spring, unless we have really exciting news to share!
Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.