Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sea Turtle Hospital

Sea Turtle Hospital News

July 30, 2008 - 11:16AM

She's got turtles on the Brame

At first she was as quiet as a mouse. But we soon found out that this little mouse can roar, especially when she's educating our visitors about our sea turtles. Intern Bailey Brame's family has a home on the island, so her prior experience with our hospital was that of a typical island visitor, taking a tour during our open house. But as anyone who has spent time on Topsail will tell you, through some kind of weird osmosis, sea turtles get into your blood. During her visits Bailey began closely observing the coastal surroundings and the particular stresses that the turtles were confronting, wondering what she could do to help. It was her concern about the environment and her desire to work for a non-profit that led her to our internship.

A twenty-minute tour doesn't accurately reflect the effort that goes on behind the scenes, and Bailey was amazed at the amount of hands-on work that's required to get our turtles healthy and ready for their adoring public. Even more surprising to her was that fact that she was given a lot of responsibility from her first day. Her favorite turtle is "Boater" who was admitted last fall with horrific propeller wounds. Boater is quite a challenge. After being plated and screwed back together at the vet school most of his wounds are healed. But there's still one very deep hole that requires about an hour of precise and patient flushing and packing. Obviously it's been time well spent, as Bailey reports the hole is finally beginning to show signs of healing.

Bailey was on-hand for our June release, and is thrilled to know that Boater will someday be taking that short ride to the beach. She's especially proud of how her fellow interns all "kick into high gear" for incoming turtles, focusing and working together to get the turtle cleaned, medicated and settled into a tank to begin the healing process.

Bailey is astounded at the enormous fan base our turtles have, drawing huge crowds to the hospital during the five days we open during the week. Once there you'll find her wearing many hats: greeter, crowd control and behind the tank telling the story of a patient. When she's not at the hospital she's a pretty low-maintenance type of gal: reading, sewing, knitting and cooking. In a few short weeks this Durham native returns Wellesley College in Massachusetts as a junior majoring in Economics, knowing now that sea turtles are priceless.

Topsail Turtle Project

The Turtle Project coordinators have a new project, and we have you all to thank for making us aware of this need. We get a lot of questions on the beach and at the hospital about sea turtle etiquette (not the turtles, their manners are just fine!)

Everyone wants to do the right thing by our turtles, so we've created a flyer explaining all the stuff you need to know to co-exist with our island's oldest visitors. Our beach crew visited local real estate/ property management groups to ask that they include this information in their rental packages. We'd like to thank the following for their support in doing so: Century 21, Treasure Realty, Island Realty, Intracoastal Realty and Coldwell Banker Coastline Realty.

If our volunteers have inadvertently overlooked you (it's possible, with so many places renting units) call Gayle Childress at (910) 328-7116 who will gladly supply you with whatever you need.

Our sea turtle mamas continue to bust their carapaces laying nests. Visit our website to see just how hard they're working: Please report all sea turtle activity (nestings, strandings, injured turtles or hatchings) to our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880.

Hospital open house

Our record-breaking crowds continue, although recent donations have been, to put it kindly, puzzling. Come on folks! Where else can you see a sea turtle without forking over big bucks, and even big bucks won't get you as up close and personal as you'll be at our hospital. We know the economy is tanking, and everyone is cutting back. But really, if you come through with your family of eight and don't even throw a few dollars in the donation jar - well - there is such a thing as karma. But to those of you "picking up the slack," outfitting your family in our T-shirts, or throwing in the $20s and even $100 bills - God bless you for your generosity!

We open daily from 2 to 4 p.m., except Wednesday and Sunday, through August. Our gift shop is also open during those hours. We occasionally close without notice for incoming turtles and dangerous weather conditions, but generally for only a short period of time. Please note that two incorrect phone numbers appear in various places in the "Coaster" magazine: the correct number for reporting turtle activity/strandings is: 910-470-2880. The correct number for the hospital is: 910-328-3377.

Last month for Turtle Talks

Turtle Talks continue every Wednesday through August. This one-hour presentation, 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. is chock full of visuals and handouts that are appropriate for ages K-adult. Cameras are welcome and there'll be plenty of great photo ops. The site is the Surf City Community Center, JH Batts Rd. (off Rt. 210 between Docksider and Gilligans.) Admission is free but donations for our turtles are appreciated. Please leave food and drinks in the car. For more information call the hospital at: 910-328-3377.

Yard Sale just around the corner.

We're gearing up for our Labor Day Weekend Yard Sale. I'll give you the 411 as soon as it's finalized.

Questions, comments or suggestions for stories

Contact me at:

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


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