Although we close to the public during the winter months we’re not all off on cruises or eating bonbons and watching the soaps. We’ve been very, very busy, starting in early December when we admitted seven small cold-stunned loggerheads, most from the New England Aquarium. A “small loggerhead” in our business is anything under about 50 pounds. As the annual showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was happening assigning names seemed obvious. The largest one (the only one rescued locally) came in with a coat of green flowing algae so he became “Grinch,” and a not-so-furry friend became his dog “Max.” The rest of the group are all “Whos” now residing in our big house waiting for release. These critters are loaded with personality!
In January we admitted two groups of small “local” cold-stunned greens that were picked up around Cape Lookout. These are some of the luckiest turtles around as they were rescued during the government shut down and the people who are normally out there looking for them were not allowed to work. Thanks to Matthew Godfrey, Sea Turtle Coordinator for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission who went out on his own to search the beaches for these frozen little turtles. “Andy,” “Barney,” “Thelma Lou,” “Aunt Bea” and the rest of the cast of characters are recovering nicely in our Sick Bay which now sports the sign “Mayberry” on the door.
We’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming up in the very near future.
Local legislators Iler and Smith have sponsored House Bill 169 which would make loggerheads the official saltwater reptile of North Carolina. Topsail has always been famous as loggerhead territory and many businesses along the coast use their image as part of their advertising/logo. Please contact your local state representatives and ask them to support HB169. This would be a fitting recognition for the loggerheads to be honored this way since they are an important part of the culture and ecology of Eastern North Carolina.
The University of Maryland Honors College “Terps Helping Turtles” service group will be arriving the week of March 17th. They are a great bunch of young adults who spend their spring break helping us with not only turtles but pretty much anything we ask of them. They’ll be playing a big part in our annual School Education Day, a special tour day for local schools which will be on Thursday, March 21.
On Friday, March 22 our hospital will host the opening reception for the annual gathering of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail organization. We are very honored to not only be chosen to be the first to welcome them to the area but also to have been designated as a “Trail Angel.”
And lace up your beach shoes because training for Topsail Turtle Project volunteers has been scheduled for early April. Terry Meyer will be holding her informative and entertaining classes on Wednesday, April 3 from 1-4 p.m. and again on Monday, April 8 from 6-9 p.m. at the Surf City Welcome Center. Not everybody can dedicate the amount of time required to work at the hospital but becoming a beach walker during the short nesting season allows you to make a significant contribution to the continued survival of these precious creatures.
And – what everybody has been waiting for – we will reopen for public tours beginning on April 4 two days a week, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. There’s so much more to tell you about so stay tuned to future columns for details!
Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.