You “like” us!
Our first public opening for tours was the weekend after Thanksgiving, and all we can say is “Wow — you like us — you really, really like us!” When we built the new hospital we hoped that you would come. But the crowds on Friday and Saturday were far beyond our expectations. In fact, we lost track of exactly how many came after our thumbs got tired clicking the counter as visitors continued to stream through our doors. Best guess is that just short of 2,000 of you were there to see our turtles and their new home.
Once inside our visitors were free to roam the great hall and gift shop and peek in the windows of Sea Turtle Sick Bay (our ICU) before entering the observation deck in Sea Turtle Bay. Our volunteers were stationed between tanks in this main rehabilitation area, ready to introduce our patients and tell their stories. People were fascinated not only by our turtles but by the magnitude of this incredible space that we spent years designing and building. Sea Turtle Bay is nothing short of awe-inspiring, not only for what we accomplish there but for the spirit of healing, hope and light that the space conveys.
With the new water system giving us sparkling clear water and the elevation of the observation deck offering a bird’s eye view into the tanks our guests can now see almost every turtle currently in rehab. Of course our hospital ambassador “Lennie” is in a prime spot, near the door where the ramp descends toward the gift shop. He’s busy finalizing the details of his fan club, and boy has he been picky about all the perks he wants his members to have. We’re now trying to convince him that his picture on the T-shirt does not “make me look fat.”
A current patient in our ICU, a juvenile loggerhead is alive today only because one very observant boy was insistent that the turtle he saw struggling in a boat basin on Figure 8 Island was sick and needed our help. After the turtle was rescued and transported by Olivia Gaitros, one of our hospital volunteers, it was confirmed. This poor critter was indeed very, very sick. We named the turtle “Gunnar” in honor of this very astute child, and Gunnar and his family were there when we opened to check on the progress of our patient. As a thank-you for saving this turtle our director, Jean Beasley, escorted Gunnar (the boy) to the ICU to meet Gunnar (the patient.) It was quite an emotional but happy reunion.
We will be open for tours and shopping on the Saturdays before Christmas, Dec. 14 and 21 and also the 28th. Hours to tour and shop will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In our gift shop you’ll find our logo and other exclusive hospital designed Ts, including long-sleeved Ts, warm hoodies and sweats, lots of youth and toddler items and an array of locally crafted jewelry, pottery, sea turtle art and exclusive to us note cards. Come with your list of names and sizes and your holiday shopping wrapped up.
Our “Adopt-A-Sea-Turtle” program has always been popular, and we now have one-stop-shopping for the adoptions of our patients. While you’re here you can select from the list of turtles and various adoption levels and leave with all of the “goodies” in hand, ready to wrap for your family, friends or for yourself. And, for the first time ever, we have put together a special “Christmas Adoption Package.” We’ve never offered anything like this before, and believe me when I say it really is something very special. You’ll just have to come in to find out all the details. You won’t be able to get it online; and if you miss it this time you may miss it forever.
Directions to our new hospital in Surf City: Take the turn off of N.C. 50/210 onto Charlie Medlin Drive, which is the road next to the Shipwreck Point (Mini) Golf course. Follow the road onto the gravel section, through the round-about and onto Tortuga Lane. Stay on Tortuga until it ends and circle into our parking lot. Come in through the double glass doors. We now have a working phone: 910-329-0222.
Admission to the sea turtle viewing area is: adults ($5); military and seniors 65+ ($4); children ($3.) Visitors are always welcome to browse our gift shop, talk with volunteers, peek through the window and use the facilities for free if they don’t wish to take the tour. Watch this column and our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for any additional tour and shopping hour and special events.
Ready for stunning temps
We had just loaded seven of our rehabilitated cold-stunned greens and a herd of hatchlings onto a Coast Guard ship for a cruise to the Gulf Stream when we got the word that there were even more coming in. Obviously these wild temperature swings have caught a bunch of the smaller greens and Kemp’s with their carapaces down. The latest admits are in a bit worse shape than the first batch because they had already been through more than one sharp drop in temperature before their rescue.
Before these turtles can be moved into our ICU they have to be slowly brought up to normal turtle temperature. We have a special room, “the cold room” that was constructed specifically to handle the process. But to make it fully functional we needed a specific piece of very pricey equipment to regulate the temperature. We didn’t have the funds to direct to the paraphernalia during construction, but because of the generosity of the visitors who came to our hospital over the Thanksgiving weekend, we now have the equipment and the installation on order.
Our visitors and residents are very important to our hospital and beach program because we can’t be everywhere 24/7. Sea turtles are cold-blooded and cannot regulate their body temperature. That’s why a cold-stunned turtle can sometimes appear to be dead — it’s literally unable to move its flippers, head and often even close its eyes. You can help us by removing the turtle from the beach or water and placing 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. If you come across any turtle in distress immediately text or phone Director Jean Beasley at 910-470-2800. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to Jean. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org for non-emergencies.
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Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.