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  • Writer's pictureStar Sota

Sea Turtle Hospital News

March 10th, zero dark thirty. All of our turtles were rudely awakened at 4 AM when the lights went on and our volunteers arrived to pack up eighteen lucky patients for a ride to the Gulf Stream. A mix of greens, Kemp’s and loggerheads were waving their release papers in the air, anxious to get into their seats (tanks) in our van and head north towards Swansboro where their boat awaited. This trip was courtesy of Instigator Fishing and Diving Charters. And their scheduled departure time was 6 AM.

Once the boat was loaded with our turtles, our five volunteers and charter owner Cindy and her crew headed out in choppy waters for a two-hour trip of about fifty miles in search of turtle comfy water. Comfy turtle water is around seventy-three degrees, and around five miles outside of the Gulf Stream they hit the jackpot. The water was one-hundredtwenty-nine feet deep, glassy and a beautiful cobalt blue. Not only that, there were a bunch of loggerheads already hanging around the area!

After listening to a chorus of “are we there yet?” from their passengers for the last two hours the releases began. Divers were in the water to assist if needed and to capture some of the excitement. And no matter how long a turtle has been under our roof once they hit the water there is no doubt they know what to do. Not too many sights are more heartwarming than seeing a turtle swimming free in a background of deep blue. Thankfully we didn’t lose any of our staff although one was literally grabbed by the seat of her pants when her turtle tried to take her for a swim. You can catch pics and videos of the adventure on our (and Instigator’s) Facebook pages. Thank you Cindy and crew for providing a first-class trip for these VIT’s – very important turtles

Back at the ranch the rooms are getting less crowded, but there are still plenty of turtles to see during tours. During the month of March we’ll be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 AM – 2 PM. You will need to purchase tour tickets in advance through our website www.seaturtlehospital.org. You can visit the gift shop during those hours without taking the tour. Check our website for the April tour schedule.

And please continue to keep an eye out for possible cold-stun victims. If you see a turtle that has washed up on the beach or in our marshy areas or is in the water floating motionlessly don’t assume it is dead. They literally can’t move, maybe not even blink. Whether the turtle is big or small immediately call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If she is not available, call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. If the turtle is below the high tide line and in danger of washing out, move it above the high tide line if you can do so safely. Ideally you should remain with the turtle until our trained volunteers arrive to retrieve it. If that is not possible, find a way to indicate the location of the turtle on the beach by drawing large arrows in the sand or placing beach debris nearby. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. All conservation work for endangered sea turtles at KBSTRRC and on Topsail Island is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 23ST05.

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