Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center opens for tours

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM.

Tourists and locals need not worry if they’re planning to visit the new hospital on the mainland side of Surf City soon. There are more than 30 turtles continuing to receive care there.

The mission of the hospital hasn’t changed. Rescuing, rehabilitating and returning sea turtles to their natural habitat is first and foremost. Beasley has made sure to keep the staff and volunteers grounded in that fact since opening the hospital on Topsail Island in 1997.

That mission has led to an evolution of sorts, one where the demand for space to help flippered patients and accommodate curious visitors lining up to see them quickly outgrew the 900-square-foot building that once housed the hospital in Topsail Beach.

The new facility, a sprawling building of more than 13,000 square feet at the end of a gravel road less than a mile from Surf City’s swing bridge, accommodates more patients and people.

Beasley doesn’t care to take a guess of the number of tourists and locals who may visit the center this summer.

“I have no idea,” she said, flashing her trademark smile.

In April, the hospital hosted a birthday party for one of the turtles. About 1,200 people showed up to that event.

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