Amber Wenrich, a native of Selinsgrove, Pa., has been vacationing with her family on Topsail for years. And for every one of those years she’s snaked her way through the long lines at our gate with hundreds of other visitors. She remembers when “Lennie,” our resident Kemps, and long-time Loggerhead patient “Boater” were about half the size they are today. Now she happily notes that: “I’m working on the inside with the turtles instead of waiting outside to see them.”


Amber Wenrich, a native of Selinsgrove, Pa., has been vacationing with her family on Topsail for years. And for every one of those years she’s snaked her way through the long lines at our gate with hundreds of other visitors. She remembers when “Lennie,” our resident Kemps, and long-time Loggerhead patient “Boater” were about half the size they are today. Now she happily notes that: “I’m working on the inside with the turtles instead of waiting outside to see them.”



Amber kept up with hospital news online, and was especially affected by the story on our Director, Jean Beasley when she was named Animal Planet’s Hero of the Year. She resolved then that one day she would experience first-hand what she had been reading about for years.



Like every other intern who’s passed through our doors Amber was astounded by the amount of hands-on experience we build into our program. She especially likes giving our patients their baths, and feels that they enjoy the process too, mainly because they’re getting attention. She also muses that: “Everybody feels better when they’re clean!”  But should a turtle not be in the mood for their fluff and buff Amber has a sure-fire way of getting them on board — she sings to them. (Don’t laugh — we’ve been singing to our turtles for years!) Our big Loggerhead “Canady” appears to be the most appreciative of Amber’s vocal talents.



Our recent release has been one of the highlights of her summer here. It was very emotional for her as this year’s group of six interns stood together for the first time on the beach, ready to walk to the surf to release the little Green that each of them carried. Amber carried “Port” and when she placed him in the water she said he just floated there for a bit before blasting off like a rocket when he finally realized he was free.



Although we could not open for tours to the public this year we have continued our relationship with special groups such as Marine Quest, Surf Camp and Sea Turtle Camp. These groups, mainly kids under age 18, come to work with us and learn about our turtles, and this is a favorite part of Amber’s day. She finds them all very interested in the work and very focused during the time they spend with us. She feels strongly that the children are the only hope for the survival of our turtles. “They need to understand that these creatures may just not be around forever.” Her “dream job” is to work for Disney at their Vero Beach, Fla., sea turtle conservation and rehab facility. 



Amber advises that prospective interns apply knowing that our work has great moments of sadness (when she sees critically injured and dying patients) but even greater moments of joy, and that it all balances out in the end. When she graduates from Penn State next year with her degree in animal sciences (with a minor in wildlife & fisheries) she hopes her career will put her in a position where she has a chance to educate a wider population on the importance of respect for our environment, and for all the creatures that share this planet with us.



We need your vote!



Our director, Jean Beasley, is one of the nominees for Oceana’s “Ocean Hero Awards.”  The annual award is given to recognize outstanding accomplishment in the areas of ocean conservation, advocacy and education. Jean has been the driving force behind our staff of volunteers who have dedicated countless hours to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of around four hundred sea turtles. She’s been a mentor to all interns enrolled in our junior and senior programs, a speaker at many local, national and international gatherings and a globally recognized and respected expert in sea turtle care and conservation. Voting closes at 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on July 26. Please show your support for Jean and our work by casting your vote for her at oceana.org/heroes. Flipper hugs from all of us!



Hospital not open for tours



And even though we had anticipated being able to open the gift shop area it looks like we won’t be able to do so until we’re cleared to open the entire building. We were so looking forward to sharing at least a small part of our new hospital with our steadfast supporters, but you know what they say about plans. So there are still no tours at either location, neither at our current building nor at our not-quite open new facility. And the gift shop will have to remain closed for the moment. Briefly:



n We are 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 in “the 80s” these days — not only in temperature but in the number of nests here on the island. Our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers have been walking and staking their carapaces off making sure every visiting mama has her hard work recognized and protected. 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. 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.



 



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