Our loggerhead ladies are officially back in town and we have the nests to prove it. Topsail Turtle Project volunteers at the north end of the island reported the first nest of the season on Tuesday, May 14 with more being reported since in other areas. That’s a positive sign that just maybe our turtles think our beaches are still a great place to raise their families despite what Hurricane Flo did to us last year. And now that our gals are nesting we encourage our locals and visitors to be our extra eyes by looking for signs that mama has come ashore. If you see turtle tracks or a nesting turtle please call our Beach Director, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880 with the location.

By the time you read this the 10 interns selected for our 12-week program will be on board and learning just how much is involved in doing what we do. It’s immensely rewarding work in many ways but contrary to what many people envision it is far from a glamour job. It won’t take long before the interns smell like our regular staff! You’ll get a chance to learn more about them over the summer in this column and meet them in person during tours.

These interns will be walking into a full house of recovered turtles just waiting for a ride to the beach along with a dozen or so patients who will still be with us for some time. We’re still admitting Kemp’s who are dining a little too closely to our local piers and paying the price by getting hooked. If the hook (or hooks) are visible and in an easily accessible place (flipper, jaw) we can usually remove them and apply some basic first aid for a few days. Sometimes our patients have required a trip to CMAST for surgical removal of the hook and need a longer recovery time. Worst case is when they swallow the hook and line, especially if it is a stainless steel hook that has no chance of disintegrating. Their prognosis can be dire, and unfortunately we have a very sick little guy right now in that situation. The staff at our local piers are well versed in how to handle a hooked turtle so please contact them immediately if you have one on the end of your line. We’ll come to get it and make sure it gets the treatment it needs to go back home.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of visitors to our hospital this spring and are getting ready to move to our summer schedule very shortly. For now we are open only on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m., and we will be open on the Saturday before Memorial Day, May 25. Beginning on Saturday, June 1 we will open daily (except Wednesdays and Sundays) from noon – 4 p.m. We often have a rather long line even early in the summer. Prep for your visit by making sure that you are well hydrated and are wearing sunscreen. Many people bring an umbrella for shade if it’s a hot and sunny day. The tour lasts approximately one hour once you are inside. Hope to see you soon!


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