We are able to do what we do only because so many of you have financially supported us over the past (almost) two decades. So when Lisa Brossia, one of our long-time volunteers, offered to do the legwork for “Toys for Tots” we eagerly signed on as a way of giving back.

We are able to do what we do only because so many of you have financially supported us over the past (almost) two decades. So when Lisa Brossia, one of our long-time volunteers, offered to do the legwork for “Toys for Tots” we eagerly signed on as a way of giving back. 

In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve. In 2001 the program ranked NO. 289 in the “Philanthropy 400,” and in 2005 the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance reported that Marine Toys for Tots Foundation had met all 20 of its standards and had been designated as an accredited charity. Since 2006 the program continues to garner accolades including: “Outstanding Nonprofit Organization of the Year,” “Top 100 Toy Websites,” “America’s Best Children’s Charity” and Forbes’ “Gold Star List” of charities. Over its life span, the Marine Toys for Tots Program has distributed over 469 million toys to over 216 million less fortunate children.

Our hospital has been approved as an official site for Toys for Tots. On Nov. 28 and 29, plush toys and gift items purchased in our gift shop that you designate for Toys for Tots will be matched by a like item as a gift from our hospital. Double your gift! We will have collection boxes available for drop off (unwrapped items only) for those who have done their shopping elsewhere and are just dropping off. These boxes will be available not only during tour hours (see info below) but also one hour before and one hour after tours on those two days. Please stop in to visit our turtles and drop off something for the kids.

Hospital tour info and ‘Black Friday’ hours 

Our current tour 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 in the latest season’s colors (and a few new styles) are arriving every week: long-sleeved Ts, hoodies (zip front and regular), holiday items and of course specialty “turtle” greeting cards, jewelry and accessories. Come with your wish lists and sizes and get your shopping done early. We have several turtles hoping for adoptive “parents,” and we’ll have unique one-time-only adoption packages available until Christmas. Visit our “Adoption Central” desk and take home your certificate, picture and other goodies. 

Cold-stun season approaching

The hatchlings and all medically cleared patients have left our hospital and have hopefully established their winter homes in much warmer waters. Now we’re experiencing our first arctic blast, and the shallower waters in the sounds and bays can drop in temperature very quickly. Any turtles still hanging around are targets for cold-stunning, and it’s likely that we’ll begin to see a few by the end of the month. 

Sea turtles are reptiles and cannot regulate their body temperature. They cool rapidly to the temperature of the air and water, and as their blood moves toward the center of their body to protect their vital organs their flippers and head suffer the consequences. They float with the tides, and are often found stranded in the marshy areas or on the beaches. They just can’t move and may appear dead. Once in this condition they are vulnerable to frostbite and predation. We have admitted many patients with frost-bitten flippers and badly injured eyes. 

If you see a turtle in this condition please don’t assume there’s no hope — there is. But we need to move quickly to get them to a safe place and slowly begin the very slow rewarming process. If the turtle is small enough to manage safely move it to an unheated space like your garage; any rapid change in temperature can send them into shock. Immediately call one of the following numbers: 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. 

Questions, comments, suggestions?

Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: flippers@att.net. This column will conitnue 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.