Turtle hospital gears up to open for the season

Sea turtle

Sea turtle hospital ‘Ambassador Lennie’ is ready to greet guests after the June 5 season opening.

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM.

No visits from mama turtles as I write this, but we typically start seeing nesting activity towards the end of this month. Even though we have absolutely no control of when and where the moms show up that doesn’t stop the friendly competition among the area coordinators to snag the coveted first nest title — it comes with dinner and lots of turtle talk.

We’re already getting inquiries as to whether we have turtle walks. We do not, as past experience has shown that they are not productive. When and where mama decides to nest is totally out of our control. We typically have about 100 nests a year and we couldn’t have predicted the time and place for even one of those! Heading out with a group does not increase your chances of seeing a nesting turtle; they come when they feel the need and have no regard for schedules. And please don’t think we’re being evasive if we tell you “we don’t know” when you ask where and when you can see a nesting turtle. It’s the truth; we really don’t know.

Although we have many Topsail Turtle Project flip-flops on the sand every morning through the end of August, we still rely heavily on our locals and visitors to report any sighting of nesting turtles, as well as any turtles in any kind of distress. Please report all local sea turtle activity to 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 also has a hotline for strandings (injured or sick turtles): 252-241-7367 and the call will be picked up 24/7.

Let’s get physical(s) — again

Our very own turtle vet, Dr. Craig Harms returns next week for a second round of physicals, this time on the guys and gals in Sea Turtle Bay. Last month’s physicals on the “pick ‘em up and carry them to the table” babies were a breeze compared to what we’re in for this time. These turtles have not been handled on a regular basis like the smaller ones, so they’ve pretty much reverted to being wild and crazy reptiles. And they’re big — bigger than most of our volunteers. It’s doubtful that they’ll hop up on the scale, stay still for measurements, open wide for a peek down their throat and then literally stick their neck out to donate blood. But we can hope. Those with a passing grade go on the list for our series of June releases. The ones that don’t? Well, they’ll be on the tour when we open for the season.

Check out this month’s edition of “Our State” magazine for a great picture of our turtle doc doing what he does best. When I complimented him on his full-page picture he commented that “you can’t go wrong leading with a sea turtle!”

The interns are coming

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