News from the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center this week.

We enjoy all aspects of our work at our hospital.

We are intimately involved with every turtle that passes through our building, whether they are with us for a few days or several years. But the best part of our job is the day we can send them home. On an overcast, wet morning, three of our fully rehabilitated patients had their second chance at a long and happy turtle life.

Kemp’s ‘dove’ washed ashore in November 2021 as one of the common colds that is often caught off guard when New England waters dip dramatically in temperature.

Turtledove arrived at our facility with the other “Twelve Days of Christmas” (named after the second day of this Christmas classic) anemic and weighing barely two pounds. With her healthy appetite and TLC, she swelled to an incredible ten pounds as we paraded her past a cheering crowd of a thousand turtle fans lining the beach.

Once she landed she literally engaged all four fins and with a little more speed she might have managed to lift off by the time she hit the surf. We have never seen a sea turtle move so fast on land.

Two juvenile loggerheads, both native to local waters, were waiting on deck, not so patiently, for their journey to shore in our turtle taxi.

‘Pammie’ was rescued on September 28 last year in Swansboro, the victim of a boat strike. From the start, it was obvious that she was a real human turtle. You couldn’t walk past her without her head popping up with a big smile on her face. We realized, of course, that she was just hoping we had food, and with a twenty-five pound weight gain during her time with us, it seems like that’s more than just hope. Pammie was swept away in the waves where she flew away.

A sea turtle tests the waters.

Finally, it was the turn of “Sahara Desert”. A relatively short time, she was picked up from Topsail by our staff on June 20 after we received a call that she had ingested a hook.

If a turtle is eating bait, we’ve learned that it’s a good idea to X-ray check for multiple hooks that we don’t know about. Sahara was transported to CMAST in Morehead City for an evaluation where the veterinary team removed a hook from her esophagus. She came back to us, her appetite intact and on the shortlist for release. She was a beauty, and the crowd was very excited to take some pictures when we asked her to slowly walk the last few meters to the waves.

Back at the ranch, we still have quite a few turtles waiting for Dr. Harms’ next visit and those all-important release documents. It soon happens when he arrives with his fourth-year students for two intensive weeks on all things sea turtle.

Mid-October will be your last chance to visit us before closing for crucial maintenance and reconfiguration in our Sea Turtle Bay area. See our website for more information.

Tourterelle meets her fans.

The mother turtles are off the clock at the end of August and the focus is now on the babies who have incubated in the sand over the summer. We cannot tell you where or when a nest will hatch. Honest. These little creatures come out when they are good and ready and we get no notice. It’s a matter of luck to be there for a boil.

If you miss hatching, you may be able to catch a nest scan which is done three days after hatching. Volunteers dig and analyze the contents which could include one or two late hatchlings who missed the alarm.

If you spot a nesting mom, see hatchlings emerge, or see anything unusual like an injured or stranded turtle, please call our Beach Operations Manager, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880. If she is not available, you can call the hospital during business hours at 910-329-0222. We will take the information and send a trained volunteer to meet with you to assess the situation. North Carolina’s state hotline for stranded, sick, and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Please note that all of our work with sea turtles, in the hospital and on the beach, is licensed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 22ST05.

Remember that interfering with or harassing federally protected sea turtles in any way exposes you to heavy fines and possible jail time.

Visits from September to mid-October will take place Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. After that, we will close until November for facility maintenance. Tickets must be purchased in advance on our website: www.seaturtlehospital.org. Select the date, time and number of guests for your party and purchase your tickets.

We are limiting the number of guests each time to make the experience more enjoyable and safer as we are still struggling with Covid. Sorry, but we are unable to accommodate walk-ins once we have sold out for the day. Please note that if our surrounding counties experience an increase in Covid cases, we may require masks for anyone over the age of three, no exceptions. Check the website for current masking requirements when purchasing your tickets.

Construction traffic on Charlie Medlin Dr. can sometimes cause delays in getting to our hospital, so please plan accordingly. Our gift shop is open to the public during visiting hours.

Karen Sota is the media coordinator for the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.