The island of Topsail is beautiful, full of beach views and ocean fronts. There is another draw to visit Topsail Island. Topsail Turtle Hospital is a non-profit organization that works with volunteers to protect and preserve sea turtles and their natal nesting grounds on Topsail Island.
Where and What Is Topsail?
There is an island in southeastern North Carolina called Topsail. It is at the end of 26 miles of beach, which contains three small beach towns. The island was used as a local picnic spot in its history, an anti-aircraft training base for the Army, and a missile testing operation. The missile assembly building is now a museum, and the launchpad is in the downtown district as a patio.
In 1948, the military projects ended, and the military returned the island to the original owners because they left the roads and bridges intact. The island development began. The result leads us to Karen Beasley. She was a Topsail resident that walked the beach and saw a need for the sea turtles to be protected.
Karen started the program to protect sea turtle’s nests, the nesting mothers and preserve the beach as a natal nesting ground. When Karen passed away, Jean Beasley, Karen’s mother, took the mantle as the first executive director of the nesting program and the rehabilitation center. Now, Jean sits on the board.
The Plan Realized
Karen Beasley knew that these turtles needed tender loving care; the sick and injured ones needed a safe place to go like the rest and recover before returning to the sea. The board and staff knew that the 900 sq ft original facility would quickly become too small.
In 2010 the groundbreaking for the new facility for the sea turtles began, and in 2013 The Sea Turtle Center opened its doors. The upgrade in square footage to 13,000 sq feet allows the turtles, staff, and volunteers the room to give the turtles the best of care.
Education and volunteer involvement are bonuses for the staff at the Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. However, the number one goal is the care and survival of the sea turtle population that uses Topsail and its surrounding beaches as natal nesting grounds.
While the Topsail Island turtle hospital staff see their work with these marvelous animals as a privilege, giving excellent care takes a lot of time and medical costs. There are multiple ways that you can help in this conservation and preservation effort.
You can help by purchasing tickets and touring the hospital, volunteering during your visit to the island, adopting a turtle that is currently in the care of the turtle hospital, or doing a summer internship. All of these options allow you to learn, grow and be a part of preserving the heritage of conservation on Topsail island.
Planning Your Visit To Topsail Turtle Hospital
You can enjoy all the other perks of Topsail’s gorgeous views, beaches, and all kinds of summertime fun. But the unforgettable part of this island is the way that the staff and volunteers work together to be a part of preserving safety for thousands of newly hatched sea turtles.
You can plan your visit to the island around one of the hatch dates. Joining on the fun of watching over the babies as they make the mad dash towards the water. Help a 2 oz baby turtle escape the clutches of ghost crabs and seagulls.
The nesting program needs volunteers to walk the beach, keep an eye on the turtle nests, and help preserve the beach. You can sign up for the orientation class on the website.
Visits The Turtles In The Hospital
While you are on Topsail Island, you can join a tour of the Turtle Hospital. You will learn about turtle care, sea turtles going through the rehabilitation process, and soon released into the wild while here.
One of the beautiful programs that the Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation center offers is internships. You can do more than just visit the center and gain one day of education, and you can spend 12 weeks as a summer intern and gain work experience, knowledge, and friendships, all while helping nature do what nature does best.
Adopt A Sea Turtle
While you are planning your visit to Topsail Island, NC, you might consider adopting a sea turtle. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center offers multiple adoption packages. These turtle adoption help to support and care for the turtles that are sick or injured.
You can care for a turtle’s financial needs in the packages and receive an information packet and picture of your adopted turtle. A few of the adoption packages also come with merchandise that represents the project. When you come to stay on Topsail island, then you can enjoy seeing all that your financial contributions do in person.