This self-proclaimed military brat isn’t new to the sea turtle game. In fact she’s been coming in to work every Sunday and Tuesday since last November. June through mid-August our regular volunteers get a much needed break once our interns make it through sea turtle boot camp. When Gracyn learned that her status as a “volunteer” would mean that her hands-on time with turtles would be greatly curtailed during the summer she found a way to keep on turtl’in — she signed up for our 12-week program!
Because she has been with us for a while she’s been a great help in acclimating the new recruits and passing along the backstories of our patients. After our series of June releases (where Grayson freed our little green “Mustang”) we’re still housing a couple dozen turtles in various stages of rehab. While during the winter she worked primarily in our ICU she now rotates between Sick Bay and our big room, Sea Turtle Bay.
Grayson notes that being at the hospital on a daily basis has made her more aware of the subtle changes in our patients over even short periods of time. She enjoys seeing them come out of their shell (not literally!) and develop distinct personalities as they start to feel, and look, better. And there’s always a reason to celebrate when one of our ICU turtles graduates and moves into the big house!
Grayson’s future career plans involve working in an environment that stresses education. She enjoys talking to the public during our tours and is amazed at the number of interesting questions our visitors ask. One of the most frequent kid queries is: “are turtles fish?” (You’ll have to visit us to hear the answer.) Grayson feels that education is one of the most important aspects of the tour because it puts the public in a position to see first-hand the consequences of humans on the environment. “It’s easier to ignore what’s going on if you don’t see it,” she says. She feels strongly that once they leave our hospital most people “get it.”
Grayson very much enjoys the camaraderie of her fellow interns, and considering their various backgrounds and life experiences is delighted at how well they all get along. She will return to UNCW in the fall as a rising senior completing her work towards a B.S. in environmental studies. Next stop is graduate work at George Mason for a degree in zoo and aquarium management. In addition to researching ways to provide stimulation for captive animals she hopes to focus on education through “program animals.” That would be “amazing, Grayson.”
Please, please do not leave our beaches looking like they have been in a war zone. Unfilled holes and litter are treacherous to our two-legged and four-flippered visitors. We’ve had many hospital guests remark on the danger of trying to navigate open holes up and down the island. Please fill them in and pick up your trash before you leave for the day.
We’re over a dozen nests as of this writing, and July is the month when nesting kick into high. In addition to the Topsail Turtle Project volunteer flip-flops on the sand every morning through the end of August, we also 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. 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, adults; $4 seniors and military; and $3 for children. We are located at 302 Tortuga Lane, on the Surf City mainland. 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.
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.