Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center opens for tours

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

An estimated 200 people gathered Tuesday morning on the beach to watch volunteers and staff tote rehabilitated turtles from trucks to the ocean. Allan Libby, Surf City’s tourism director, said hundreds more gathered to see the releases on Sunday and Monday.

The hospital has been a welcomed attraction to Surf City, whose leaders expect local businesses to reap economic benefits from tourists visiting the facility.

So far, Beasley said, people have not seemed to mind the hospital charging admission fees, a first for the facility. Instead of just accepting donations, the new facility is charging $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and active-duty military and $3 for children.

Admission fees validate the interest of people in the hospital’s mission, Beasley said. They’ll help with the cost of operations, much of which is done by unpaid interns and volunteers.

These are the same people who eagerly educate the hundreds of tourists who flock to see the turtles each summer.

Beasley has not determined how long the new facility will remain open for tours. Tours are from noon until 4 p.m. daily except Wednesdays and Sundays. The facility will be closed to the public July 4.

“Anybody who is there within our hours is going to get in,” Beasley said.

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