We’ve all been enjoying a long fall with mild days and nights, and our waters are still at turtle temperature. So when our vet called to say that two more of our patients had been “medically cleared” for release we hustled them off to the beach. Little Kemp’s “Seaborn” and Loggerhead “Park” waved goodbye to their temporary home and made the trek across the bridge to a small but enthusiastic crowd awaiting their arrival. Up over the dunes came Seaborn in the arms of our volunteer, Kelsey Wilenta. This little critter was admitted in July after swallowing a fishing hook. Once he got over his sore throat he recovered quickly and kept us — and our visitors — amused with his antics. Carried into the water just past the first breaking wave he was gone and out-of-sight in a flash.


We’ve all been enjoying a long fall with mild days and nights, and our waters are still at turtle temperature. So when our vet called to say that two more of our patients had been “medically cleared” for release we hustled them off to the beach. Little Kemp’s “Seaborn” and Loggerhead “Park” waved goodbye to their temporary home and made the trek across the bridge to a small but enthusiastic crowd awaiting their arrival. Up over the dunes came Seaborn in the arms of our volunteer, Kelsey Wilenta. This little critter was admitted in July after swallowing a fishing hook. Once he got over his sore throat he recovered quickly and kept us — and our visitors — amused with his antics. Carried into the water just past the first breaking wave he was gone and out-of-sight in a flash.



Park was admitted in May as a “Barnacle Bill,” our term for a turtle that is emaciated, lethargic and covered with barnacles and other opportunistic sea critters. After months in Sick Bay under our standard protocol of meds, good food and lots of TLC he was moved into Sea Turtle Bay where he became a favorite of our visitors. Park, being a big boy, was carefully wrapped in our “turtle snuggie” for the trip and then carried close to the surf by hospital volunteers Peggy and Jessie, who were assisted by two of Surf City’s finest firefighters, Cary Chappell and T.J. Jones. It didn’t take Park long to figure out that once he put his carapace in gear he would be home before we could change our minds. 



Park and Seaborn exited as healthy turtles, carrying a bit of extra weight on them, so hopefully they’re already where they want (and need) to be for the winter months. They sure looked like they had a destination in mind as they zipped through the water.



Hatchlings have left the building



The “cuteness factor” in our ICU has dropped a few points with the departure of those dozen hatchlings that we had been caring for over the last month. Those many, many tiny and frequent meals meant we could almost see them growing overnight. But our mission is to take in the sick and injured and make them better, not operate a nursery for babies. The kids caught a boat ride thanks to the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, and we trust they all safely made the trip to the seaweed drift lines where they’re happily munching and growing even bigger.



We can’t stress often enough that our locals and visitors are key to reporting sightings of late hatching nests, lost/wandering hatchlings and any turtles in distress. With the colder nights finally becoming more of the norm we’ll probably see the beginnings of cold-stuns in the near future. Please report all local sea turtle activity to Director of Beach Operations Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880. If unable to reach her you may also contact our director, Jean Beasley, at 910-470-2800. The state of N.C. also has a hotline for strandings (injured or sick turtles): 252-241-7367 and the call will be picked up 24/7. 



Hospital tour info and ‘Black Friday’ hours 



We’re still welcoming several hundred visitors on Thursdays and Saturdays. Our current schedule is in effect through the end of the year. We will be open only on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. We will not be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but we will be open on the Friday after Thanksgiving from noon to 4 p.m. and that Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. General admission is $5; for seniors and military it’s $4; and children are $3. We are located at 302 Tortuga Lane, on the Surf City mainland. Take the turn from N.C. 50/210 onto Charlie Medlin Drive (Shipwreck Point Mini Golf is your landmark for this road.) Follow the road onto the gravel section and through the roundabout. We are the only building on Tortuga. 



Google Maps is now showing the correct address, but any sort of GPS system will not. Just remember that we are on the mainland now, not on the island. And a couple of words of advice: The town road has begun to develop potholes that you’ll want to skirt around, and if you park on the side of the road beware of the drop-off into the ditches, and that sand is softer than it looks!



More of our winter duds are arriving every week: long-sleeved T’s, hoodies and regular sweatshirts, holiday items and of course those W. Carl Ealy cards. Gather those sizes for your next visit to the hospital and get in some early holiday shopping in our gift shop. Don’t forget that adoptions make excellent and unique gifts, too! Visit our “Adoption Central” desk and take home your certificate, picture and other goodies.



Questions, comments, suggestions?



Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: flippers@att.net. This column will now move to the off-season schedule of every other week. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: flippers@att.net.  



 



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