Sea turtles head home to the ocean

Sea Turtle Hospital News

Our patients continue to make amazing recoveries and a few weeks ago we were able to send three of them home. And if you were lucky enough to be in town you got to see them as they made their final “walk” down the runway and into Mother Ocean.

Maverick, a much-loved Kemp’s ridley finally completed his four-year rehab. Originally admitted as a cold stun he suffered one setback after another over the years, almost all related to the time he spent in the frigid air and water. Antibiotics, topical treatments, laser, and physical therapy and lots of TLC finally got him to the point where Dr. Harms felt comfortable enough to “free Maverick.”  Always a picky eater we were a bit concerned that he might expect to be served his favorite meal, squid heads, at some ocean seafood bar. Seeing him rocket away we knew that his sea turtle brain had already kicked back in.

Myrtle, a large loggerhead was one of our tougher cases, not only medically but emotionally. Boat strikes are horrendous, and Myrtle was cut from head to tail when she (or actually “he” as we discovered much later!) was brought in by Nancy Fahey from the Wrightsville Beach project. Treating him with pain medication, antibiotics and topical treatments was our first job. Then Myrtle was outfitted with stabilizing “hardware,” seven plates that held his carapace together during the long healing process. The external wounds healed relatively quickly but a series of infections delayed his release. Myrtle or Mr. Myrtle as we now referred to him was finally ready to go home after several years under our care.

And, representing the greens, “Brooks” headed out after several months recovering from cold stunning. A real cutie he worked hard at getting better, fast. Typical of our greens he was an excellent eater and left with plenty of “reserves” to tide him over while he reacclimates to finding his own dinner again.
Dr. Harms will be coming in September with his 4th-year vet students to give our patients in Sea Turtle Bay physicals. We know several who are really hoping they pass all his tests and can go home soon.

Nesting season ends in a few days but of course turtle mamas do not keep calendars tucked under their flippers. Please continue to be our additional eyes for any turtles nesting, hatching or in distress of any kind. With nests hatching all over the island it would be easy to miss one of the little guys who didn’t hear the alarm clock and leave the nest with his siblings. If you find a hatchling on the beach carefully pick it up and put it in a small container with some sand and a very small amount of water - barely cover the flippers. With this extreme heat, it’s important that the little critter not bake in the sun for hours. Then call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If she is not available, you may call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. We will take the information and one of our area coordinators will meet you to retrieve the hatchling and refer it to us for follow-up. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick, and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Please note that all our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 21ST05.

Hospital tour schedule changing! Beginning September 8th through October will we be open four days a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays from Noon – 4 PM. The admission process remains the same; you must schedule and purchase your tickets in advance for a specific day and time through our website, And we still require masks be worn inside the building for everyone five years of age and over – no exceptions. Visit us soon, many of our patients are completing their rehab and are just waiting for Dr. Harms to give them his blessing for their release.