I was invited to take part in a great experience Wednesday morning – a sea turtle release at Topsail Beach, NC.
The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center had nursed 25 turtles back to health and prepared them to be returned to their home in the sea. The hospital is an incredible facility with an equally incredible staff of organizers and volunteers.
Executive director Jean Beasley told me between 25,000 and 35,000 individuals visit the facility each year. With the release this week, the center has now rescued and rehabbed over 300 turtles, since it was founded back in 1996.
“We know that rehabilitation works,” Beasley said, noting some tagged or micro-chipped former patients have been found or tracked later. But she also explained that after these turtles are returned to the ocean. they still face the same threats that all turtles face.
Unfortunately, the number of sick or injured is on the increase, but Beasley also reports beach re-nourishment programs are helping.
A new facility is being build for the turtle hospital, on four acres of land in Topsail Beach donate by a local family. Beasley’s eyes welled up with tears when she explained Wednesday’s release might be the last one out of the currently building.
“We have accomplished wondrous things here,” she said. “This is a special place.
“These magnificent animals are counting on us.”
I have to admit that I was getting emotional and was trying to hide it as Beasley spoke to the group gathered before the release. And I was both surprised and honored when she announced the escorts for each turtle and I was on list to walk with Lime – a young green sea turtle.
I took some video of Lime’s trek back home and of some of the other turtles there. A huge crowd was on hand, including a large group of area school kids.
The list of turtles who went home on Wednesday –
Oakie, Moss, Hunter, Lime, Forest, Holly, Goa, Jade, Peanut, Kelly, Baldwin, Gravely, Remembrance, Diligence, Johnson, Little Sunny, Eagle, Rica, Seymour, Feisty, Pier, Tico, Lightning, Jolly and Shrek.
*** For more information or to make a donation, go to SeaTurtleHospital.org.