Betsy Kautz, longtime hospital and Topsail Turtle Project volunteer who died in 2012 returned home last week to finally be laid to rest. Her family and friends from around the country joined together with her turtle hospital “family” at our new facility on a very rainy Friday afternoon to prepare Betsy for her final journey. In a few days she would be reunited with an old friend, “Dare,” not far from where they both spent many hours over many years.


Betsy Kautz, longtime hospital and Topsail Turtle Project volunteer who died in 2012 returned home last week to finally be laid to rest. Her family and friends from around the country joined together with her turtle hospital “family” at our new facility on a very rainy Friday afternoon to prepare Betsy for her final journey. In a few days she would be reunited with an old friend, “Dare,” not far from where they both spent many hours over many years.



When our beloved Kemp’s Ridley “Dare” died in 2005 we partnered with Eternal Reefs to fulfill a promise that we made when she was admitted to our hospital in 1999: She would go home someday. Dare was never able to overcome the many traumas that brought her to our hospital, but over the years she had stolen, and often broken, our hearts with her valiant struggles to keep fighting. After her passing we partnered with Eternal Reefs to have her remains encased in a reef ball and returned to the ocean. What started as a simple request to memorialize a very special patient turned into the only artificial reef in the world to bear the name of a sea turtle. In 2006 Dare, along with a half-dozen others, was lowered to the ocean floor just a few miles off Topsail Beach. It was the birth of “Dare’s Reef.” Now seven years later, in the second deployment of reef balls, Dare has welcomed Betsy and four other individuals to her home.



Over the years Betsy spoke often and kindly of her family and friends, so when they arrived for the reef ball casting it was almost like we knew them. Everyone brought some kind of token that they would seal into the cement, both in the interior capsule containing her remains as well as on the reef ball itself. There were turtle and Girl Scout items, dog biscuits and sand from an island that played an important part in her childhood. And since Betsy died before we moved into our new facility we sent a piece of it with her; a chunk of gravel from our parking lot. Everyone took a turn at mixing her remains into the cement, remembering the day when she pressed her fingerprint into Dare’s reef ball.



Tears and laughter closed the viewing ceremonies on Sunday. We, Betsy’s turtle family, were holding it together pretty well until Pam invited everyone present who was ever a Girl Scout to join hands in a circle around Betsy’s reef ball and sing a song most of us haven’t even thought about for many years; “Day is Done.” Like the song says, we trust that Betsy and the others will now “safely rest” with Dare.



Hospital finally nearing completion



It’s looking like early June is the magic date. All the gravel is down, the property is landscaped and grass has been planted. It’s looking good outside and getting better on the inside. Next major job will be getting our stuff together and planning on how we’re going to move 58 turtles and all their gear to the new location. When we figure out what kind of help we’re going to need y’all will be among the first to get the call. Stay tuned, and check out the progress on our Facebook page or website: seaturtlehospital.org.



Questions, comments, suggestions?



Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: flippers@att.net. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: flippers@att.net. If your e-mail address has recently changed please send me your new one so I can update my master list. We’re holding publication of the next issue until after we make the move to the new facility.



 



Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.