Our extended late summer weather has finally turned on us. This year we were happy to have that extra month because it allowed us to complete our renovations in record time and re-open for tours through the end of the year. And it gave one little green who got his release papers late in the season the chance to go home while the waters were still turtle tolerable.
“Macaroni & Cheese” was a bit of a miracle, as turtles who are trapped and submerged in a net for long periods of time generally do not make it. After his near-death experience, with lots of TLC, a variety of meds and a really good appetite this little guy surprised us all with a quick turnaround. On a drizzly day, with a roaring ocean, volunteer Jason suited up for battle and carried Mac & Cheese out past the breakers where he shot off in search of a winter home.
A few weeks earlier we had admitted “Sasquatch Socks,” a juvenile loggerhead who was enjoying lunch near the Sea View Pier in North Topsail Beach. Unfortunately, lunch came with a side of not only a lot of marine debris but one very large stainless-steel hook and several small ones. Although being hooked is not generally a good thing in this case it may have saved his life. He had a moderate load of barnacles, anemia and a fair amount of edema, so he was clearly headed downhill.
Sasquatch had a line coming from his mouth but the hook itself was not visible. It was obvious that he was going to need intervention by the vets at CMAST to locate and extract what was at the end of that line. Radiographs showed a large hook deep in his esophagus, along with several small hooks. Surgery was performed and the hooks were successfully extracted. Although that issue was resolved he will be overwintering with us because his blood work is nowhere near where it should be. After a day or two with a sore throat he turned into a ravenous eater. He gets a big bowl of fatty fish every day and that’s one of the key components for a successful rehab.
Fishing gear entanglement, like Sasquatch Socks, plus cold weather is why we rely on the sharp eyes of our locals and visitors. Cold-stun season has officially arrived, so we expect to be getting calls about the critters who didn’t catch the last train out of Dodge. If you see a turtle that’s been injured, cold-stunned or stranded for any reason 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 send trained volunteers to retrieve the turtle. 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 22ST05.
Tours Resume: We’ve opened to the public on a contracted tour schedule. Dates: November 25 and 26 and December 4, 8, 14 and 17. Check our website www.seaturtlehospital.org for times as they vary. And we still require ticket purchases in advance on our site. Our gift shop is jam-packed with all kinds of merchandise for turtle lovers, and of course you can adopt one of our patients for those impossible-to-buy-for relatives and friends. You can shop during those days without taking the tour.