No one can say that we’re not able to go with the flow.

No one can say that we’re not able to go with the flow.

And once those last few replacement pieces for our damaged water system equipment finally show up things really will start flowing. But while completion of the water delivery system has bogged down, nothing else has. Our staff of year-round volunteers is back in the swing after having a bit of downtime thanks to the summer interns. And as we’ve been moving a slew of rehabilitated patients out in a series of small releases over the summer months we’ve been bringing more of them in our doors. Yes, doors. We have turtles at both locations, with the more critically sick and injured being cared for in the ICU section of the new hospital.

Labor Day week is traditionally when we welcome our vet, Dr. Craig Harms of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, and his entourage of fourth year students and residents. This two-week clinical rotation offers them an opportunity to work side-by-side with our staff, exposing them to the entire rehabilitation process. Of course it also exposes our patients to a variety of “opportunities:” the chance to donate blood; the chance to be examined over every square inch of their carapace, plastron and flippers; and the opportunity to open wide and show off their tonsils (just kidding, they don’t really have tonsils.) And of course, there’s the measuring up and weighing in. We want those numbers to be high, to reflect all the hard work we’ve put in over months and years so that our turtles will leave plumped up with enough reserves to take on the arduous winter months ahead of them. We still have a few candidates for release before the end of this month, so stay tuned to our Facebook page (The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center) for any details.

And speaking of plump turtles, on Sept. 10 we released six critters back into the care of Mother Ocean. Two loggerheads, two Kemp’s and two greens hitched a ride to Surf City to catch an outgoing tide. Our visiting vet students were given the honor of helping to send these fully rehabilitated patients back home in front of an enthusiastic late summer crowd of volunteers and visitors. Even after this release we’re still holding at over 30 patients in various stages of recovery. Those grooves you see in the road between Topsail Beach and Surf City are being made by our staff running between the two locations!

Waiting for the hatch

Those 130-plus nests that our hardworking mamas laid over the summer have our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers running up and down the island, or more accurately, sitting up and down the island. And their waiting and monitoring continues in rain, wind and dark of night (but not lightning) as the activity persists through the month of October.

We continue to rely on our visitors and residents to be our extra eyes on the beach, and to help us maintain a safe environment those hatchlings. Turn off outdoor lights; they can disorient and distract a turtle. If you dig holes be sure to fill them in before you leave the beach for the day. Holes are not only a hazard for humans (there have been numerous injuries over the years) but they can trap/injure a turtle, especially a little one-ounce hatchling, and could cause their death. Ditto with beach furniture that’s been abandoned or even just left out overnight.

We honestly don’t know exactly when a nest will hatch. We’re not being evasive when you ask — just honest.  If you see a nice, smooth ramp-like area in front of a staked nest it means our coordinator(s) feel that a hatch is likely to happen within a few days. You may join them on the beach at night as long as you sit quietly and follow their instructions. All species of sea turtles are federally protected and harassing or harming them in any way will result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment. Even though our volunteers are out every morning, and now nest sitting at night, they can’t be everywhere 24/7. If you come across a nesting turtle, turtle tracks, a hatching nest or hatchlings on the beach contact our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880 who will pick up turtle calls no matter what time of the day or night. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to Terry. She can be reached at for non-emergencies.

Hospital gift shop schedule

The gift shop at the new hospital is open on Monday and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. We’re stocked up with exclusive logo and other T-shirts, hoodies, accessories and all sorts of plush turtles. We can only accept cash and checks at this time, but hope to get that credit card line hooked up shortly. While you’re there take a peek into Sea Turtle Bay, the soon-to-be new home of our resident Kemp’s and Hospital Ambassador “Lennie.”  You can also look through the windows of our ICU where a handful of patients are undergoing extensive treatment for a variety of ills.

Things are changing overnight, and the best way to keep up with what’s going on is by visiting our Facebook page: The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. It’s updated almost daily. Pay attention and visit often because it’s where Jean announces our “mini releases,” sometimes just a few hours before they happen. We’ll keep you apprised of our progress and let you know when we’re ready to open for tours.

To get to our new hospital: Off of 50/210, take J.H. Batts Rd. (next to Gilligan’s) toward the Surf City Community Center. Turn right onto Community Center Drive and keep going all the way around their building to the big tan building with the light green roof. That’s us. We do not have a phone there yet, and the one at our current place hasn’t worked for months, so calling is futile. We’re not hard to find.

Questions, comments, suggestions?

Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this column to me at: This column moves to the off-season schedule of publication of every other week with this edition. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: If your e-mail address has recently changed please send me your new one so I can update my master list. I’ve been adding everyone who requests the newsletter, but the next one won’t come out until after we make the move to the new facility.


Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.