This is not intern Karina Monroe’s first time at the rodeo, so to speak. This 2013 graduate of Chowan University in Murfreesboro cut her sea turtle teeth in Costa Rica. In 2005 Karina, who has “always loved sea turtles” spent time at a sea turtle reserve, working mainly on the beaches, patrolling for nesting mothers and hatchlings and protecting them from poachers. Costa Rica is a dangerous place for self-proclaimed sea turtle devotees, and you would be right in guessing that this is a lady willing to take a stand for what she believes in.


This is not intern Karina Monroe’s first time at the rodeo, so to speak. This 2013 graduate of Chowan University in Murfreesboro cut her sea turtle teeth in Costa Rica. In 2005 Karina, who has “always loved sea turtles” spent time at a sea turtle reserve, working mainly on the beaches, patrolling for nesting mothers and hatchlings and protecting them from poachers. Costa Rica is a dangerous place for self-proclaimed sea turtle devotees, and you would be right in guessing that this is a lady willing to take a stand for what she believes in.



Karina found out about us online and was intrigued. She was not exposed to any sort of rehabilitation work during her time in Costa Rica and saw this as her opportunity “to help sea turtles get better.” Like most interns she wasn’t clear as to exactly how that happens, and when she saw our 60-plus patients on the day she arrived she thought: “That’s a lot of sea turtles that need help!”



Karina likes everything about her work here because she likes a fast-paced environment where she can “multitask.” It’s easy to fall behind in our work if you’re not constantly looking around to see what needs to be done and what can be done when you don’t physically have your hands on a turtle. And speaking of hands, Karina mentions the importance of making sure that you have a vise grip on those little greens when working with them, but at the same time “being gentle with them” even as they slap you silly with their flippers. She notes that every turtle is different, but she likes certain features of the various species: Kemp’s have the best eyes, full of mischief; greens, at least the babies, have the prettiest carapaces; and the loggerheads have the cutest, most expressive faces.



Right now “Holden III” is her favorite turtle, “a real sweetie.” He’s passed his physical so he’ll be leaving us very soon. She recalls our June release and how unexpected it was to find herself in the ocean charged with setting a little green free. And how rewarding it was. She also loves working with the “camp kids,” watching the expressions on their faces as they get up close and personal with our patients. She hopes that their time here will give them a newfound respect for all creatures.



She enjoys living with her fellow interns and says it’s become her “little home-away-from-home,” like having another family. She highly recommends applying for our internship because she’s “learned more here than I did in any classroom.” She’s also skilled at painting, gardening and cleaning thanks to her afternoons spent working at our new building. As her time with us draws to an end she is contemplating whether to continue her education with a master’s in marine biology or seek employment, possibly in Florida.



Big doings at the hospital



We’ve always known that our turtles and our director are extremely photogenic, and they all have great stories to tell. Apparently a lot of other people think so too. In the space of one week:



n Aqua Kids filmed a segment of their TV show featuring the release of one of our little green cold stuns, “Radio.”



n Director Jean Beasley was voted Oceana’s 2013 (Adult) Ocean Hero, a “clear winner” according to that organization. Thanks to everyone who voted for this tireless advocate for not only our turtles but for Mother Ocean and all the creatures in her care.



n “Fox & Friends” broadcast the release of two of our patients: another green cold-stun, “Twix,” and loggerhead “Lea” swam home before an enthusiastic crowd estimated at about 1,000. Lea has been fitted with a satellite tracking device and you can follow her adventures at seaturtle.org. 



We have other patients who will no doubt be getting the blessing of our turtle vet to go home over the course of this month. Check our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for dates and times, usually announced the day ahead of the release.



Gift shop open



We thought we could do it a few weeks ago, but now we really are open! Although the plumbing for the turtle tanks is still ongoing, and we can’t open for tours, we can invite you in to shop for our turtle hospital merchandise. We’re stocked with our exclusive logo and other Ts, both long and short sleeved, hoodies, hats, visors and tons of plush sea turtles in all sizes and colors. While you’re there you can peek through the window into Sea Turtle Bay, our main rehabilitation area.



Our gift shop is open on Monday and Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. We can only accept cash and checks at this time, but hope to be set up for credit cards soon. Our new hospital is located directly behind the Surf City Community Center. We’re the big tan building with the light green roof. Currently, we are not open for tours at either location. We will resume tours and Turtle Talks when we complete the move of turtles and staff. Once we are in residence the hospital and gift shop will be open year-round. Please visit our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for daily updates on our progress.



These ladies are hot!



Those turtle mamas are on a tear this year, and with a few weeks to go we’ve already hit triple digits, including one verified green nest. Could this be the year we set a new record? With this much activity our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers rely on additional help from our visitors and residents to maintain a safe nesting environment. 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 who will pick up turtle calls no matter what time of the day or night. 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 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.