The Topsail Turtle Project volunteers hit the beach on May 1, the official start of nesting season here on the island.

The Topsail Turtle Project volunteers hit the beach on May 1, the official start of nesting season here on the island. Although most of the mamas are still heading in from the long winter we sometimes have our first nest right around Mother’s Day. Our beach walkers will be up with the sunrise, so if you’re an early bird you might run into them during your stroll — they’re ready to answer any questions you might have. We also rely heavily on our locals and visitors to report any sightings or strandings of these critters. If you see a turtle nesting, in distress, injured or dead please call Director of Beach Operations Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880, Hospital Director Jean Beasley at 910-470-2800 or the State of N.C. hotline for stranded, sick and injured turtles at 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. 

Two new admits

We recently admitted two little greens, “Speith” and “Lil Dude.” Both arrived emaciated, dehydrated and extremely weak, heavily encrusted with barnacles, algae, leeches and other icky stuff. After carefully removing the mess it was appalling to see just how concave the plastrons were on these two critters. Speith, who arrived about a week before Lil Dude has turned the corner and is eating well, always the most critical step on the road to recovery. Lil Dude has a long haul ahead of him, having begun tube feeding on the advice of our vet. How did they get sick? We’ll never know for sure, but maybe they were victims of the cold-stunning event and have been drifting with the tides for months. They obviously haven’t eaten in a long time, so it’s a possibility. They are getting the best care possible so send out some positive vibes to help them along.

Bees are on the way

You may remember my article a few months ago explaining how we were using honey for treating wounds on some of our patients. I also mentioned that in the spring Mr. Hutchison and his grandson were relocating a few hives to our property. The bees, currently living in the Charlotte area, will be transported to Topsail as soon as our hives (and all the bee paraphernalia) are assembled. Once the queens and their entourages are settled in they’ll start buzzing the area for the best tasting flowers and begin making honey. Although we won’t be able to harvest anything for ourselves the first year Mr. Hutchison feels that once those ladies get going we might actually have enough to sell. And so we can get to know our neighbors better he’s also giving us a short course on the secret life of bees. When you come to visit our turtles “bee” on the lookout for our newest residents.

Let’s get physicals

Pre-release physicals are scheduled for our patients on May 19.  It’s a hectic day of weighing, measuring, donating blood and a nose-to-tail look-see at almost every turtle we have in house at the moment. Although it might look like chaos somehow we all manage to work our way through the maze of people, pumps, hoses, calipers, needles, vials and scales to get the work done in one day. Two of our big girls (October and Alpha) have already been cleared during earlier physicals, and the rest of the critters are keeping their flippers crossed that they pass the Dr. Harms test. Releases will take place over a period of a few days the first week in June.

The ‘chipmunks’ 

Simon, Theodore and Alvin (three little green cold-stuns) moved into the big house a few weeks ago but get daily workouts in the therapy pool (see our Facebook page.) Things were going “swimmingly” for a while; then Simon put on his bully hat. Now Simon is no longer invited to the pool with the other ‘munks and has “BITER” on his permanent record!

Hospital tours 

We had hoped to be able to open a few days a week before June, and it’s still a possibility. The problem is with our lift station and the parts that keep it operating. Unfortunately (for all of us) the system has many more bad days then good days. If we are able to open before June the days/times will be posted at the top of our Facebook page, The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Check for any updates there

Questions, comments, suggestions?  

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


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