This fall, we welcomed 10 interns from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. In addition to learning about turtle care and husbandry, the students practiced their communication skills by teaching the public about sea turtles, and completed a project. One such project - a video entitled "A Day in the Life of an Intern" appears above.
In their own words, here is an introduction to the KBSTRRC Fall, 2021 student interns.
AMBER: Hello, my name is Amber and I am from Asheville NC! I am currently finishing up my last semester as a student at UNC Wilmington studying Marine Biology. I’ve always had a love for animals and grew up working with dogs, horses, and farm animals. As I got older I discovered my passion for marine life and now hope to work in shark conservation in the future. This is my first experience working with sea turtles but I am learning a lot about conservation and rehabilitation and love sharing this new knowledge with the community!
ANDRA: Hello, my name is Andra and I am currently a Senior at UNCW majoring in Marine Biology with a concentration in Conservation and minoring in Oceanography. I have a love for all animals, but I wanted to intern at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation hospital to learn the husbandry side of caring for sea turtles. I have grown up with pets ranging from dogs, cats, fishes, and a rabbit so I have developed a love for all animals. This has developed my future interest to obtain my Veterinary Assistant certification that I hope to use first gaining experience working at a domestic veterinary facility and then moving to either a Zoo or Aquarium to work with wild animals. I also hope to become scuba certified and one day explore the ocean in various regions of the world.
BRANDON: Hey, my name is Brandon and I am currently a junior at UNCW. I am majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I have grown up around animals in the wild and caring for them on farms. I have a passion for preserving the natural environment and threatened species. I have lived on the coastline my entire life, which has allowed me the chance to interact with many marine species of fish and mammals. I have seen first-hand the impact of human presence on wildlife. I have made it my mission to help these animals in any capacity available to me. This internship is a great opportunity for providing hands-on care for marine reptiles and applying the knowledge I have learned during my studies at UNCW.
CAITLYN: My background is in library science but when I decided to go back to college there was no doubt that I would major in Marine Biology. I’m from Atlantic Beach, NC, and have always been fascinated by the life and complexity in our oceans that we are still barely beginning to understand. Growing up on the coast, sea turtles had an almost mythical status: everyone talked about them but few people had witnessed one in the wild. Being allowed to work with them now has been very special. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to contribute to the mission at KBSTRRC and am hoping to apply the practical knowledge I’ve gained here in future research on evolutionary biology and how organisms adapt to different environmental conditions and survive in niche habitats across the globe.
CODY: My name is Cody Parrish, I'm born and raised in North Carolina. I'm currently a senior at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington majoring in Marine Biology with a Conservation concentration. I always hoped for the opportunity to help animals like sea turtles and becoming an intern at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital allowed me to do that. I thankful that I was able to take part in the KBSTRRC internship experience. This experience has help me become more confident in myself, given me new knowledge regarding sea turtles, allowed me to work in a new environment, and allowed me to work with fantastic individuals. Hopefully, I will get to continue to help sea turtles to give them a brighter tomorrow.
DEEDRA: My name is Deedra I’m from Arizona and am currently in my senior year at UNC-Wilmington. I am majoring in marine biology with a focus in marine conservation. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist, and being an intern at the Karen Beasley Sea turtle hospital has continued to fuel that fire. It has helped solidify my goal to have a career in marine animal conservation. I am beyond grateful to be an intern at KBSTRRC. It has so far broadened my knowledge in, adjusting to a new environment, adapting to change, and working with new people and turtles. I hope to work with turtles in the future!
MILLY: My name is Milly! I am a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington majoring in Marine Biology. I grew up in Albemarle, North Carolina, but last year, my family relocated to Shallotte, NC. I was thrilled to be able to intern at the KBSTRRC. I grew up spending lots of summers at the beach, especially with my grandmother in Georgia. She began taking me to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center when I was young which instantly spiked my interest in sea turtles. During high school, I spent as much time as I could near the water and stayed up late in hopes of seeing a sea turtle nest hatch. In addition, one summer, I was able to job shadow Mark Dodd, the Georgia Sea Turtle Program Coordinator for the GADNR. From watching hatchlings crawl to the ocean to seeing my first stranding, I knew sea turtle conservation was where I wanted to be. After graduating in May 2022, I plan to begin my career in sea turtle conservation.
PAYTON: Hi my name is Payton and I am a senior at UNC-Wilmington studying Marine Biology with a concentration in Conservation with a minor in Leadership Studies. I have been passionate about working with animals since I was a kid helping my mom in the veterinary office where she worked. I found my place with marine animals later from the movie Dolphin Tale and realized that my goal, outside of college, is to work at a Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release center for marine animals. This is my first exposure to the animal hospital lifestyle and I am excited for everything I will learn through this experience.
SAMMY: Hiya, my name is Sammy and I am a senior at UNCW studying marine biology and Spanish. I grew up on the Jersey shore so my life evolves around the ocean and all of the animals that live within it. I studied abroad in the Galápagos Islands last year where I fell in love with sea turtles and for that reason I am so excited to be interning at the KBSTRRC this semester. In the future, I hope to focus my career on conservation based research projects and continue working hands on with marine life!
By Karen Sota
Our work at the hospital has been pretty light almost since the beginning of September. We released every turtle that had been pronounced healthy, and almost no turtles have been admitted. If a patient did come in they were qiven a physical exam and, if there were no issues, they headed back home after enjoying a few complimentary meals during their short stay. We were deluded into believing that our summer full of boat strikes and hooked events was finally winding down, and that most of the turtles were starting to get out of Dodge and heading to their warmer, winter waters. In fact, we were spending our time preparing for the annual onslaught of cold-stuns we expect to admit at the first significant drop in the temperature.
Then came “Pammie.” This cute juvenile loggerhead was found floating in the water near the bridge in Swansboro by an alert angler who noticed several injuries. After being picked up by the Emerald Island Sea Turtle Patrol she was delivered to CMAST in Morehead City for her initial exam, chemistry panels, and blood gases. Her injuries are quite extensive but obviously old and in various stages of healing. She was severely anemic but somehow the little lady seemed to be doing an amazing job managing to survive despite having several large gashes, all pretty much at her hind end. Her right rear flipper was basically gone, along with a significant portion of carapace immediately above it. Our guess? Possibly an initial boat impact with its whirling propeller hits her, and while she was stunned a shark saw a chance for a quick bite. We’ll never know for sure – she’s not saying.
We admitted Pammie on September 29th then transported her to NC School of Veterinary Medicine the next day for a full-body CT scan. With the location and number of very deep large and small lacerations we wanted to make sure there was no damage to her spinal cord. Results showed her good to go, just not right away.
Back at the ranch (hospital) Pammie has new digs in Sick Bay, where she currently has the entire room to herself! She’s being treated daily with antibiotics, soapy baths, and betadine flushes to keep those healing wounds sparkling clean. She’s handled very gently because the edges of her carapace are quite soft. And thankfully she’s a really good eater; not picky about what we have to offer. Good food with enough protein is essential to healing and the difference is already apparent even though she’s only been with us a short time. You can check Pammie out in person if a visit to our hospital is in your near future.
Only one nest, laid very late in the season is still incubating. But it’s not only those hatchlings that we’re asking you to look out for but any turtle in any kind of distress. If you find a hatchling on the beach carefully pick it up and put it in a small container with some sand and a small amount of water - barely cover the flippers. Then 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 one of our area coordinators will meet you to retrieve the hatchling and refer it to us for follow-up. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick, and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Please note that all our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 21ST05.
Fall tours continue! Through October we are open four days a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays from Noon – 4 PM. The admission process remains the same; you must schedule and purchase your tickets in advance for a specific day and time through our website reservations page . And we require masks be worn inside the building for everyone five years of age and over – no exceptions. We are working on an abbreviated tour schedule for November so check our website in a few weeks for details.