Seven years ago Jordan Dickinson (a native of Smethport, Pennsylvania) was vacationing at her aunt and uncle’s house in Wrightsville Beach when they told her they were taking her to the turtle hospital for the afternoon. Now she can laugh about her reaction, but as kid who was heading to a hospital instead of the beach she was “pretty bummed out at the time. I thought, what a horrible way to spend a day: at a hospital.” But once she toured our “really small” facility she was blown away by the patients and our mission to get these critters back home. In fact, she remembers donating “all of my vacation money, which was probably less than $30. But I gave it all to the turtles.” She was hooked on turtles, and visited every aquarium she could after that.
This same aunt and uncle gifted Jordan with an adoption certificate for one of our big girls, “Canady.” Jordan proclaims it was “the best Christmas gift ever!” She also learned about our internship program at that time and hoped that she would be accepted so she could meet “my turtle.” After six months of looking at Canady’s picture Jordan finally came nose to nose with the object of her affection, and none too soon. Canady is on the short list for a release in the not-too-distant future. Jordan will miss her but she’s “very happy for her.”
Jordan is typical of our interns in that she wasn’t sure what to expect and was surprised at the amount of time she was able to devote to daily treatments of the more seriously ill and injured patients. Good thing, because thanks to a recent outing with that same uncle (and her brother and his friend) she’s got a new turtle on her hands, “Masonboro.” They were out on their jet skis headed to the beach at Masonboro when her uncle stopped and began pointing at the water. There was a good-sized Loggerhead flipped over on her side with her head up, struggling to breathe. Their first attempt to rescue her ended in defeat when she disappeared under the water and they lost track of her. But she resurfaced a bit later, in the same spot she had been when the found her. Their second try also failed, but they suspected that when she came up the next time it would be exactly where she went under, so they waited patiently, determined to snag her, and they did! The turtle was then carefully loaded onto the lap of Jordan’s uncle, who was somehow keeping his balance on the back of a moving jet ski. The group slowly headed to Trails End: “There were people pointing at us and taking pictures all along the way.” Waiting for them, ready to transport the patient to our facility were Nancy Fahey, turtle-hauler extraordinaire of the Wrightsville Beach Turtle Project and Jordan’s aunt. Jordan’s experience with treatment protocols has come in handy as Masonboro has some old boat strike injuries that need daily tending-to.
Jordan has some advice for prospective interns: “Be prepared for long days and a lot of hard work. It’s all worth it when you see a healthy turtle being released.”
In her spare time she hangs out with the other interns, goes to the beach and “explores the island.” In a few short weeks she will be returning to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, as a rising sophomore. She’s the coach/manager/instructor for the college swim team, and is scuba and lifeguard certified. She hopes to transfer to UNCW for the spring semester and begin her studies in marine biology. We’re pretty sure she’ll be back to check up on Masonboro somewhere along the line.
As noted above, barring some unforeseen event “Canady” is expected to be released in the near future. Watch our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for dates and times of any upcoming releases. Details are posted the day before.
Nesting numbers slowly crawling upward
We’re at just about 50 nests at this writing, so it hasn’t been a stellar year for nesting mamas at this point. But we still have a month to go so there’s an outside chance for a late surge We’re into our crossover period with early nests beginning to hatch and the mamas still coming up to lay their nests. Be sure to spend a few minutes with our volunteer manning the nesting display at our hospital to get a glimpse of what’s hiding below those staked off areas on our beaches. Our visitors are more likely than ever to have a close encounter of the sea turtle and Topsail Turtle Project volunteer kind as the summer progresses and those beach walks in the morning expand into nest sitting at night. We continue to rely heavily on our locals and visitors to report any sighting of nesting turtles, hatching nests and any turtles in distress. Please report all local sea turtle activity to our Director of Beach Operations Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If unable to reach her you may also contact Director Jean Beasley at: 910-470-2800. The state of N.C. also has a hotline for strandings (injured or sick turtles): 252-241-7367 and the call will be picked up 24/7.
Hospital visiting hours
We are open daily except Wednesday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.. General admission is $5; seniors and military are $4; and children are $3. We are located at 302 Tortuga Lane on the mainland in Surf City. Take the turn from N.C. 50/210 onto Charlie Medlin Drive (Shipwreck Point Mini Golf is your landmark for this road.) Follow the road onto the gravel section and through the round-about. We are the only building on Tortuga. We moved from Topsail Beach last fall, so please do not go to the old location looking for us — many people have made that trek, most likely out of habit. Visit our website (seaturtlehospital.org) and/or our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for updates on patients and other turtle happenings.
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Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.