Topsail Advertiser
  • Intern ‘fascinated by turtles’ finds work with them enjoyable, rewarding

  • One of the tenets of our mission statement is: “To provide an experiential learning site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and/or veterinary medicine from around the world.” To that end we offer a 12-week college level internship. Those chosen for this highly sought-after position spend the summer working closel...
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  • One of the tenets of our mission statement is: “To provide an experiential learning site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and/or veterinary medicine from around the world.” To that end we offer a 12-week college level internship. Those chosen for this highly sought-after position spend the summer working closely with our staff and patients, experiencing firsthand just what it means to commit blood, sweat and tears to every sea turtle coming through our doors. Over the next few weeks you’ll get to meet each of this year’s six summer interns.
    Have ‘Faith’
    First up is Candice Faith, a native of Shreveport, La., and a 2012 graduate of LSU-Shreveport. Candice actually applied for our internship last year, but during our review process she was offered a position at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in their Naples wildlife clinic. Her 40-hour week there entailed working to rehab a variety of critters native to that area, including birds (about 80 percent) and reptiles (mostly turtles.)
    Sea turtles are a fascinating species, quite unlike other turtles, so our approach upon admittance varied a bit from what Candice was used to. Unless a turtle has obviously life-threatening wounds our first concern is to settle it in an isolated, quiet place until it decompresses from the stress of rescue and transport. Even though we consider each admit an emergency we’ve learned that reducing stress if often the best thing we can do once a turtle comes through the door. Now, after a few weeks observing their behaviors Candice has come to fully appreciate and see the wisdom of “why we do things the way we do.”
    Candice has always been “fascinated by turtles,” especially by the navigational skills and gracefulness of our sea turtles. She’s already seen that each of our patients has a distinct personality and has remarked on their amazing ability to rebound from injury and illness. But it’s a fact of life that no matter how hard you work to make a critter better sometimes you just don’t succeed. While in Florida Candice took a class on euthanasia because she wanted to learn enough about the process to feel confident that it was the right move. Though it never made things less heartbreaking for her she did begin to feel “OK,” knowing that it was the best and very last thing she could do for a suffering animal.
    Although we still have a boat load of patients who didn’t make the cut for the June release our interns have yet to experience the typical uptick in sick and injured turtles that pour through our doors beginning around now. With less time required for daily treatments their efforts have been redirected to keeping the current patients healthy, our hospital physically running (mention “water system” to any of them and they cringe!) and also getting the new building fluffed and buffed for our grand opening. No matter what she’s doing Candice says it’s a great feeling being with a group of people who all want to be here and are all working towards the same goals. She’s excited about being in the first “graduating class of interns” from the new hospital and is looking forward to the move and the many changes in store for all of us.
    Page 2 of 3 - To date Candice’s most memorable experience came during the release when she said she was “totally in the moment, and time seemed to slow down” as she waded through the surf with a little green in hand. She realized then what a consuming passion we have for what we do, and why. She advises that anyone considering our internship know that the position “is a tremendous opportunity, not to be taken lightly. Be fully committed and the work is enjoyable and rewarding.”
    No visitors quite yet
    It’s going to be a crazy month, and unfortunately that means no tours at either location, neither at our current building nor at our close-to-opening new facility. Briefly:
    n We will not open for tours at our current location.
    n We will resume tours mid-July at the new building.
    n Turtle Talks will resume when we open at the new building.
    Once we are in the new facility the gift shop will be in full operation and there will be tours year-round. Please visit our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for daily updates on our progress.
    Nesting heating up
    Those amazing loggerhead ladies continue to grace our beaches, picking out the perfect spot to raise their family. Our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers patrol each mile every morning, looking for turtle tracks that signify a possible nest, and then staking and marking them. But we also rely on our visitors and residents to help us maintain a safe nesting environment by following a few simple rules. Turn off outdoor lights; they can disorient and distract a nesting turtle. If you dig holes be sure to fill them in before you leave the beach for the day. Holes are not only a hazard for humans (there have been numerous injuries over the years) but they can trap/injure a turtle and cause her to lose her eggs. Ditto with beach furniture that’s been abandoned or even just left out overnight.
    All species of sea turtles are federally protected and harassing or harming them in any way will result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment. Even though our volunteers are out every morning they can’t be everywhere 24/7. If you come across a nesting turtle or turtle tracks on the beach contact our Director of Beach Operations Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880.
    If you come across a stranded turtle immediately call the Wildlife Resources Commission’s sea turtle emergency hotline number at: 252-241-7367. Someone is available 24/7 to pick up calls. Locally you can call Terry (910-470-2880) or Jean at 910-470-2800. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to Terry. She can also be reached at for non-emergencies.
    Page 3 of 3 - Questions, comments, suggestions??
    Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: 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. 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.
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