We have long-standing relationships with many individuals and organizations that devote their time to the study and conservation of sea turtles. For years we have been welcoming Ann Somers, a professor of biology at UNCG and her “Biological Conservation of Sea Turtles” class to our hospital for a few weeks during late winter and early spring.


We have long-standing relationships with many individuals and organizations that devote their time to the study and conservation of sea turtles. For years we have been welcoming Ann Somers, a professor of biology at UNCG and her “Biological Conservation of Sea Turtles” class to our hospital for a few weeks during late winter and early spring. 



After arriving and setting up camp (literally) during tropical storm Ana, Ann and her twelve students landed a bit battered but nonetheless eager to work with us for a few days. It was the same group that was so much help to us earlier in the year, so they were a bit past hatchling stage in knowing about our patients. If fact, they were anxious to check on their favorite turtle and flitted tank-to-tank asking us questions about their recovery and if they were on “the list.”



Since they had been here a few months ago they knew the lay of the land: “this isn’t like an aquarium.” And they felt more comfortable working with the turtles and the staff the second go around. “I feel like we’re better able to help out this time” was the consensus of the group. 



Enrollment in Ann’s class includes a lot of unique experiences with sea turtles, and a lot of hands-on in more ways than one. Service is a significant component of the course was something all of the students agreed on. So not only did they assist us with the husbandry duties (feeding, tank cleaning, turtle baths and treatments) but they also spruced up our building in preparation for our summer opening.  



The class has one more trip planned. In August they will be traveling to Costa Rica to spend a week at Tortuguero National Park in a remote area of the country. They’ll participate in the ongoing research on nesting sea turtles, collecting and logging tagging and other turtle data. One of the comments regarding their work here and in Costa Rica was pretty perceptive: “Sometimes conservation is sad, but always interesting.” So true.



Nesting update 



The Topsail Turtle Project volunteers are on the job, and as we move further into the month of May those mamas are getting closer and closer. As of this writing there are no nests, and there is really no way to predict when and where the first one will be. Last year’s numbers only count for last year; every year is a surprise. And, even though we’re bombarded with questions about the beach re-nourishment on the north end the final vote on that sand lies with the loggerhead mamas. Our beach walkers are up with the sun, so chances are if you’re an early bird you’ll run into them so stop and have a chat. They’re always eager to “talk turtle.”  Because we’re not on the beach 24/7 we continue to rely 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 NC hotline for stranded, sick and injured turtles at 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. 



Hospital tours



So far so good with our finicky lift station, so we’ll continue with our tours on Thursdays and Saturdays (1 to 4 p.m.) until we switch to our summer schedule in June. Any changes 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: flippers@att.net. 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: flippers@att.net.



 



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