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  • Writer's pictureStar Sota

Sea Turtle Hospital News

Question: Why did the hatchlings cross the road?


a) They heard there was a great band playing at the Trailer Bar.

b) They wanted a hot dog from Friendly Mart.

c) They saw the playground and wanted to try out the slide.

d) They followed the light.

Easy question, especially if you’re a fan of sea turtles and our hospital. The answer is: d) They followed the light. When these little guys and gals boiled out of their nest they looked up and headed over the dune to the bright lights of the big city. The light that they should have followed was the reflection of the moon on the water. But sometimes the moon just can’t compete with the residential and commercial lighting of beachfront development. Thankfully Surf City police were out on patrol and recognized that this was not your typical gang trying to break in for late night snack. They notified Terry Meyer, our Beach Director, who called area coordinator Todd Crawford who rousted his crew of Topsail Turtle Project volunteers from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Working in the dark they somehow managed to locate and wrangle a whole passel of hatchlings that incredibly made it across the main road on the island. Hatchlings don’t have the best odds of surviving their early years in the ocean but even less of a chance if they’re in a fight with a car. These critters were very lucky, and they were in the water shortly after their rescue.

So how can beachfront homeowners make sure that hatchlings (and sometimes a nesting mama) do not make the same mistake during the few short months that turtles are on our beaches? It’s easier than you might think, and right now it’s FREE - all you have to do is ask for our help.

To celebrate the 25 th Anniversary of our hospital we’re looking for twenty-five beachfront homes for our free give-away of four (4) amber light bulbs to replace your current ocean facing white outdoor lights. These amber lights emit a wavelength that makes them practically invisible to sea turtle eyes. It’s simple technology, and in fact you can see it for yourself if you visit during tour hours. And we did say that they’re FREE. All you need to do is complete an application online at: We’ll deliver and install them for you, but you must agree to use them exclusively from May 1 – November 1 and submit a photo of your new lights for our use. Maybe time or circumstances won’t let you volunteer at our hospital or as a beach walker, but by doing this you too will become a big part of our mission to save sea turtles.

So, what do I do if I find a hatchling that’s gone astray anywhere on Topsail? 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 does not bake in the sun for hours. Then call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. Calls to her number after hours will automatically be forwarded to her for action. You may also 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. Terry is also the contact for any sick, injured or pier-hooked turtle. The State of NC hotline for strands picks up 24/7 at 252-241-7367. Remember that interfering with or harassing federally protected sea turtles in any way makes you subject to steep fines and possible imprisonment. Our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit


We’re open Monday through Friday in August with tour hours posted on our website: Days and hours will change for September and are also currently posted. Please remember that admittance to the hospital is only through pre-paid on-line reservations for the specific date and time on our website. We always have patients hoping to see your smiling faces. Our gift shop is open during tour hours and you are welcome to stop in to browse without taking a tour.


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