After three years of building, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center was finally able to call their new facility home.
The new facility is quite an upgrade from the hospital’s humble beginnings on Topsail Beach. The Turtle Hospital went from being located down a sand covered road in a 1,000 square foot ordinary building to a 12,000 square foot structure that houses a medical wing, ICU, operating theatre with a new digital radiograph and boasts a 3,600 square foot main rehabilitation room, Sea Turtle Bay.
Opened in 1997 with the help of only volunteers and donations, the Turtle Hospital serves not only nesting turtles and hatchlings, but also provides refuge and specialized care for sick and injured sea turtles. Volunteers deliver medicine, food, water and care in hopes that the turtles (including loggerheads, greens and the rare Kemp’s ridley) can be rehabilitated and released back into their natural habitat. It is the only rehabilitation program of its type in North Carolina.
Since its opening, the Turtle Hospital has successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released around 400 turtles, excluding any hatchlings that made their way through over the years. The hospital also runs the Topsail Turtle Project, a group of volunteers that walk the beaches during nesting season, the beginning of May through the end of August, identifying turtle nests. During hatching season, volunteers also sit with the nests at night. Each year the hospital holds training sessions for new batches of volunteers at the Surf City Welcome Center.
The hospital has now moved off the island it has called home, but with this new location on the mainland comes additional visibility for the hospital and its programs. Admission to the sea turtle viewing area is $5 for adults, $4 for military, high school students and seniors age 65 and older and $3 for children. Visitors can access the gift shop, talk with volunteers, and look through the windows for free.
The grand opening at the new location, 302 Tortuga Road in Surf City, was held in the summer of 2014. The hospital is open daily from noon-4pm. For updates , visit the hospital’s Facebook page at facebook.com/seaturtlehospital or its website at www.seaturtlehospital.org.