Sea Turtle Hospital News

Sea Turtle Hospital News

Griffin: “I'm ready for my closeup.”

Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:33 AM.

No matter what happens the first and second time, the third time isn’t always “the charm.”

A small Loggerhead arrived at our hospital a few weeks ago sporting a tag on her rear flipper, and also showing the scars from where a second tag had been on her other flipper. Turtles that are tagged have obviously been caught somewhere at sometime for some reason. Turns out that Griffin got her jewelry last year at the Nuclear Power Plant in Brunswick County. Could it be that she liked those sparkly baubles so much she went back to replace the one that was lost?

It’s not unusual to get calls from power plants about sea turtles that have found their way into channels and intake/discharge areas around these facilities. She may have been trying to escape the rapidly cooling coastal waters. No matter what the reason, her plan was flawed because when she was found she was well on her way to becoming very seriously cold-stunned. Even a little bit of a chill can slow a turtle down, and Griffin was in an especially precarious position because alligators like to hang out around power plant ponds.

Luckily for Griffin the personnel at the nuclear facility do a great job of spotting and rescuing wayward sea turtles. It wasn’t long before she was out of the water and out of danger from any marauding alligators looking for an easy meal. Once in our hands she was gradually warmed up to a more comfortable sea turtle temperature and started on our protocol of antibiotics (just in case), daily baths and hearty meals.

Now we happen to think all sea turtles are the most beautiful creatures around, but Griffin has enthralled us with her inquisitive personality and a face that goes way beyond endearing. We just can’t help hanging out around her tank, giving her extra attention and blubbering, “Aww, you’re so cute!” While she looks forward to a quick recovery and (hopefully) a long and happy turtle life, there is another side to this story.

Rarely do we give a patient a “people name.” Not long ago we received a donation for our “Family Giving Challenge” in memory of a young child named Griffin. The letter that came with the donation tugged at our hearts. In 2009 Griffin’s family rented a house here on Topsail. After a visit to our hospital Griffin began to take a deep and continuing interest in marine life and conservation. He won an award for a book on sea turtles he wrote while in third grade; his backpack was crammed with books on marine life and he spent hours exploring tidal pools and wondering at the creatures in them. He continued to tell everyone about his visit to our hospital and how one day he would “work” there and save sea turtles.

Tragedy struck in 2011 when ten-year-old Griffin and his twin brother Nick were injured an auto accident. Unfortunately Griffin did not survive. Working through their grief the family remembered Griffin’s passion and commitment to help protect and study marine life. His mother, Britt “saw again the wonder in his eyes as we met your patients that summer.” They immediately knew that helping our sea turtles would be what Griffin would want them to do.

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