Topsail Advertiser
  • Another week, another intern to introduce

  • When Tracy Wangui walked into our hospital on the interns’ first day we thought, “She looks kind of familiar.” It turns out we actually had seen her here before. Several years ago she came with a group of students from UNC Greensboro’s Office of Leadership Service and Learning. According to Tracy, on that trip “the hospital grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go!”
  • When Tracy Wangui walked into our hospital on the interns’ first day we thought, “She looks kind of familiar.” It turns out we actually had seen her here before. Several years ago she came with a group of students from UNC Greensboro’s Office of Leadership Service and Learning. According to Tracy, on that trip “the hospital grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go!”
    We often have special groups spend time working with us for short periods as part of our commitment to education. Because we work with highly-regulated endangered species their participation is always limited to helping us with feeding, cleaning, general housekeeping and sometimes special projects involving our move to the new hospital. Tracy vividly remembers the massive pile of PVC pipe and fittings that had to be cleaned and sorted into bins for transport and storage. But she was betting that, if accepted as an intern, her hands-on experience would involve more turtles than plastic. She said she told our Director, Jean Beasley that she would be applying; “I’ll be back!”
    After a month with us she has a newfound appreciation and respect for our year-round volunteers and is in awe of the amount of work and responsibility that goes into caring for and rehabilitating the sick and wounded. She exclaims, “I’ve never been this exhausted!”
    She’s found this opportunity “amazing” and is “extremely happy” with her decision to return. She is studying three disciplines at UNCG (majoring in environmental biology with minors in chemistry and political science) and hoped that she could solidify a move in one of those directions. Now she says that the conservation of marine life, specifically coral reefs, is definitely in her future.    
    So far the best part of the summer has been when she released little Kemp’s “Blue.” As she rode to the beach with Blue on her lap she says she smiled so much her cheeks hurt. She says it was great to be on “the other side of the crowd” this time, and she could feel the energy radiating off of them as she moved down to the surf. Although she was happy to send him home she says she worries about all the turtles we released, wonders where they are and if they’re OK. We know how that feels.
    Tracy is originally from Nairobi, Kenya. but spent most of her life living various places up and down the east coast of the U.S. (“My mother likes to move!” she said). She’ll spend summer of 2014 studying abroad at James Cook University near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where we’re sure she’ll make friends with even more sea turtles.
    Hospital not open for tours
    We’re up to 40 turtles, and if we were crowded before we’re now officially packed carapace-to-carapace with patients of all sizes. Some are critical, some are hoping to get their release papers from our vet, who came last week to take blood and give physicals to the hopefuls. Bottom line is: No tours at either location, neither at our current building nor at our not-yet-ready-to-open new facility. Briefly:
    Page 2 of 3 - n We will NOT open for tours at our current location.
    n We WILL resume tours when we complete the move to our new building.
    n Turtle Talks will resume 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
    We’re approaching 40 nests, so if we continue at this pace we should have a pretty good nesting season. Unfortunately, we have had reports of beachgoers chasing nesting turtles back into the surf. When this happens it’s very possible that the turtle, already exhausted from her trip from the surf to the dune lost her eggs once she got back into the water. With a one in 5,000-10,000 chance of making it to adulthood we need every egg if this species is to survive. 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 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 be reached at topsailseaturtle@aol.com for non-emergencies.
    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.
    Page 3 of 3 -  
    Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach. 

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