News from the Sea Turtle Hospital

Sea Turtle Hospital News
We’re immensely proud that our work at the hospital is done literally with the blood (turtles are good a swinging those flipper around,) sweat (the building is kept at turtle comfy temps and the days can be long) and tears (mostly happy, like at the releases, some not so happy) of our volunteers. But we’re also fortunate that we have so many volunteer-staffed local organizations that ask how they can help us – with anything.

Recently the Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island visited to inquire about any projects that they might support. It just so happened that we were in the process of updating our nesting exhibit, and by coincidence, that original exhibit was constructed many decades ago by the Kiwanis Club. That display spent a good part of its life in the Surf City Town Hall before being re-homed when we opened our new hospital. And over the years it’s been by far the most popular stop in our education hall. So – kismet?

The actual nest part of the display was in amazingly decent shape, it just needed a bit of TLC. The protective glass was removed, the “beach” freshened and stakes, tape and a ramp were added to make it reflect what an actual nest looks like. The most challenging part of the refresh was finding a replacement for the sad, broken predatory ghost crab that really was a shell of its former self after all these years. You would think that, with all the ghost crabs on the island it wouldn’t be too hard to find one and somehow figure out how to preserve it so we could use it in the exhibit. Well – if anybody out there know how to do it please call us! In the meantime, we’ve had to settle for a crab body double.

Now, this is where the Kiwanis really stepped up. Out went the large light panels that had far outlived their effectiveness and in came a large high-def TV mounted over the nest, courtesy of the Kiwanis. The day it was mounted on the wall we stood there in awe; it was beautiful. All we needed next was a story to go along with our new TV. That’s when Doug Payne, one of our long-time volunteers wrote, directed and produced a short video that captures the beginning of a sea turtle’s life cycle. Do we smell an Oscar for documentary short? The official unveiling was celebrated and hosted by the Kiwanis at our hospital with snacks, champagne, and the presentation of a plaque documenting their gift to us. There’s one more piece to the display that’s currently in production. It should arrive soon, but you’ll have to visit us to find out what it is.

And if that magnificent TV were not enough the Kiwanis also devoted a day outside working with our hospital volunteer landscaping crew. They spent hours hauling mulch and refreshing the numerous beds we have on our large property. Thank you, Kiwanis – we’re looking good inside and outside!
Fall/early winter tour schedule. Beginning on November 4th the hospital will be open on Thursdays from Noon – 2 PM for gift shop visitors only. Full hospital tours will be available on Fridays and Saturdays from Noon – 2 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 require masks be worn inside the building for everyone five years of age and over – no exceptions. Our shelves are stocked with exclusive hospital merchandise and ready for your early holiday shopping. And don’t forget that you can adopt many of our patients for those hard-to-buy-for relatives. Your support through gift shop purchases and adoptions goes directly to the care of our patients – thank you!

Cold stun season approaches. The weather is still mild but all it takes is a night or two of temps dropping into the low 40’s to catch a turtle by surprise. The smaller ones are especially vulnerable as they have less fat to protect them and not a lot of experience to readily react to the cues of cooling waters. We’re asking you to look out for any turtle in any kind of distress. If you spot anything unusual please 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 turtle that will then rbe brought 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.