We’ve seen a lot of changes in our 20-plus years of sea turtle rehab. It’s amazing that this whole thing started with one sick turtle recovering in a tent in somebody’s back yard. As more and more turtles showed up needing help it became obvious that “we need a building!” Before her death Karen Beasley, the namesake of our hospital asked her family to use her insurance money to do something to help the turtles. So the Beasley family graciously honored her wishes by using not only those funds but adding to them. We got a building.

It was nothing fancy; cinder block, concrete floors and basically the size and shape of a two-car garage. You might say we were pioneers in the tiny house movement, but our house was for sea turtles. There were few creature comforts, in fact the turtles were probably more comfortable than the staff as the building had no heat or air conditioning.

But with a small, loyal and very dedicated group of volunteers we fixed broken turtles and fund-raised our carapaces off in our “spare time.” Sea turtle rehab ain’t cheap, and we have never received funds from tax dollars, from any government anything. We are to this day totally funded by donations from those of you who believe in our work and our ability to walk our talk.

Anyhow, we got so good at what we do that it became clear that “we’re gonna need a bigger building.” Even more effort was put into raising enough money to build the facility we have today. But we did it – all with your donations. When we moved from just under 1,000 square feet to almost 14,000 square feet we thought we were set forever. There’s no way we could outgrow the place – right? Right? There are still days when we look around at all the turtles that keep coming in and think with amazement that “we’re gonna need a bigger building, and more specialized equipment to care for these critters.”

While we have no plans to expand our current hospital footprint sea turtle rehab still ain’t cheap. One of the ways to help our patients continue to get the excellent care we provide is with our “Adopt-A-Sea-Turtle” program. You can’t take one home with you, and believe me you would not want to as they are quite demanding with their wants and needs. But by adopting one you help with the funds needed to house them and provide the food, medication and specialized vet care and tests for their recovery. This program has been so successful because we have adoption levels ranging from $25 to $250 with various premiums at each level. You can adopt in honor of or memory of, for a special occasion, as a classroom or group – there are just so many options, and ways. Come into the hospital during tour days to talk to an adoption specialist and you can leave with all your stuff. Or visit our website (seaturtlehospital.org) and complete the adoption information and pay on-line where you can use PayPal. If you have any questions about the adoption process or particular turtle contact our adoption coordinator, Judy via e-mail at: adoptaseaturtlenc@gmail.com. With the holidays just around the corner an adoption as a gift for someone special is a hassle-free way to check off some of those names on your list.

Due to the approaching hurricane, Tuesday, Sept. 11 was the last day for tours this week. Beginning the week of Sept. 16 we move to our fall schedule/hours of two days a week when we will open only on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 - 4 p.m. Check our Facebook page for any possible delays in our plans due to the hurricane.

Stay safe!


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