Rescued sea turtles will soon swim in the healing waters of a brand new hospital.
SURF CITY — Rescued sea turtles will soon swim in the healing waters of a brand new hospital.
The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island is just a few months away from opening a much larger facility in Surf City.
Jean Beasley, director of the popular turtle hospital, expects the doors to open in June on a project that has been 16 years in the making.
The $1.4-million turtle hospital will be 13,600 square feet and will house more than four times the number of turtles as the current 900-square-foot building.
"We were in desperate need for more space," she said.
The current hospital in Topsail Beach was originally built to house eight turtles in need of medical attention. The list of turtles admitted for illness or injury easily eclipses that number each year.
The new hospital, on the mainland section of Surf City, also will have larger tanks and separate rooms for isolation and new admissions. Plus, there will be more room for the public to visit.
"For the first time we will be able to be open during the school year so that children will have an opportunity to visit in conjunction with their studies," Beasley said. "There are so many other possibilities to teach the need for conservation as well as encouraging an awareness and love for our natural surroundings."
Recently, a group of students from the University of Maryland spent part of their spring break visiting the hospital and learning what Beasley and her team are doing to save the endangered sea turtles.
The "Terps for Turtles" program is an indicator of the interest students and other organizations have in the hospital’s work. Another indicator is the long lines of summer tourists waiting for a glimpse of the sea turtles in recovery for cold stuns, injuries and viruses.
Lines should be shorter this summer, since the new hospital is so large – unless more people decide to descend upon this little haven for loggerheads and celebrate one of the coast’s most treasured spots for turtle care.
And that’s good news for Surf City, according to the town’s director of tourism, Allen Libby.
"Their new, enlarged facility will enable a significant increase in their visitation," Libby said. "That increase can impact the entire business environment in the town.
"It will create another star in the town’s crown."
To check out the progress of the new hospital, go to seaturtlehospital.org