Spring is here (at least most of the time) and that means a visit from our favorite personality, the Easter vet. Recently Dr. Harms, along with his resident, Jenessa, and vet tech, Heather, arrived ready to spend the day giving our little guys (and the big girls) in Sick Bay their pre-release exams. And with about half of our 60 patients still in residence in ICU that’s a lot of carapaces, flippers and other body parts that have to be assessed.
Normally, once these guys are fed, bathed and returned to their tanks they settle in for a mid-morning nap. They were in for a rude awakening, literally. First stop was the weigh and measure station, and a quick review of their admittance weight verses current kg’s clearly proves that we don’t cheap out on food for our patients. OK — maybe some of them were a bit zaftig, but that just means more swim time in the therapy pool before they’re sent home in June. At least we can’t be accused of sending them off hungry!
Next stop, the exam table, where under the discerning headlamp of Dr. Harms and Jenessa’s powerful flashlight every scute and scale was examined. A small ultrasound wand measured their heart rate, and then it was time to donate a little blood for the cause (their release.) Sea turtles do not have retractable heads, but some of them tried their darndest to prove otherwise when that needle headed their way! While Heather was in our lab spinning their donation in our centrifuge, each patient was given a pat on the head and returned to his or her tank where they could finally get back to that nap.
After checking the progress of October, Alpha and Dudley (our ICU loggerheads who are not ready for release) we moved into Sea Turtle Bay to get a head-start on next month’s physicals and to have Dr. Harms check on a few areas we were concerned about on some of our patients. Not-so-little-anymore greens “Lewbart,” “Sigmon” and “Earle” caught a ride down the hall to the stat and exam areas. Lewbart, who always has more energy than five turtles put together, got some bonus swim time in the therapy pool in an effort to tire him out before the ride back to this tank. It kind of worked ...
After one last procedure, a radiograph of Kemp’s Ridley “Thing One,” we called it a day very late in the afternoon — at least as far as official medical stuff. There was a new patient in route, expected to arrive within the hour. The work never ends, and we love it!
And coming up
May is a whirlwind of activity at the hospital. We have our new crop of senior interns starting their 12-week stint, and we still have pre-release physicals to complete for the big guys and gals in Sea Turtle Bay. The new hospital has meant a lot of changes to procedures, especially with the way we handle water. Our water used to be free — pumped right out of the sound. Now we have to make salt water, and salt ain’t cheap. Each tank will have to be totally drained so we can get inside for the exams, but the water must be preserved so it can be reused. It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’ve MacGyvered our way through tough situations before so we’ve already got a plan. Too bad there’s not an “app” for this.
We will open our doors to everyone beginning June 5. We’re still working on the final schedule of days and times, so watch this column, our website (seaturtlehospital.org) and our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for details.
Some of the turtles coming in now are not necessarily “cold” but rather critters that finally became so debilitated from a prior cold-stun that they’re just drifting in with the tides. In the event that you do come across a turtle in distress, here are the basic steps for a cold-stun rescue: Remove the turtle from the beach or water and place it in an unheated area such as your garage, car or utility room. Do not try to warm it up! That could cause the turtle to go into shock. The N.C. state hotline for any stranding is 252-241-7367, and the call will be picked up 24/7. Locally, if you come across any turtle in distress you can text or phone our director, Jean Beasley, at 910-470-2800 or our beach director, Terry Meyer, at 910-470-2880. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to Jean or Terry.
Questions, comments, suggestions?
Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is in the off-season schedule of publication of every other week. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: email@example.com. I’m working on the next edition, but there’s so much to talk about that it’s tough knowing what to include, and things change daily! It’s a long process, and we have a lot of work to do before our grand opening so we ask for your patience while we try to get it together. If your e-mail address has recently changed please send me your new one so I can update my master list.
Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.