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, www.seaturtlehospital.org. 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.
Sea Turtle Hospital News - Snooki's Big Day
by Karen Sota
Every year right after Labor Day Dr. Harms brings his residents and fourth-year vet students to our hospital for some hands-on work with our patients. It’s something his students look forward to, maybe not so much our turtles. But in the end, many of them get to go home so a few days of having every scute and scale and flipper and sometimes their “interior” examined is worth the price. When Snooki’s turn came it took a village to make it happen, with the “villagers” moving into her home because there was no way she was going to vacate her tank.
“Snooki’s Big Day” started with a little trip to dreamland where hopefully she would doze through the next few hours. First up, the weigh-in. You can’t train a sea turtle to just step on the scale, so you must bring the scale to the turtle and then somehow get the turtle to cooperate. It was no small accomplishment getting that zaftig body where it needed to be. In the end she clocked in at three-hundred-ten pounds. Then things got really interesting, again at least for the students and our volunteers. Snooki was about to become a blood donor. It’s not the first time Dr. Harms has asked one of our healthy patients to give a little blood for his turtle blood bank. Snooki’s blood could be the difference between life or death for a sea turtle in need of a transfusion. As she slumbered on she was given a complete physical and then had a little cosmetic surgery.
If Snooki were living in the ocean she’d be snacking on a lot of crustaceans, corals and stuff that would break our teeth if we tried eating it. Her large mouth is made for crunching, in fact when she arrived from New Jersey she had packed her own lunch, a big box of whelks. At our hospital she’s developed a preference for one of the softest things we have, squid, which we stuff with fish in the hope that she gets some protein. As a result her beak can get raggedy and grow a bit larger than is optimal. Out came the bite block, flashlight and a Dremel. Snooki now has a beautiful smile, in addition to her beautiful personality. And Dr. Harms pronounced her healthy.
We still have a few nests that have not hatched so please keep an eye out for wayward hatchlings or turtles 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, www.seaturtlehospital.org. And we require masks be worn inside the building for everyone five years of age and over – no exceptions. We still have patients that are looking forward to your visit before we close for the winter. Maybe Snooki will even show off her new smile for you.
We are pleased to welcome a fantastic group of interns to help in our sea turtle hospital this summer! Coming from colleges as close as UNC Wilmington to as far away as Cal Poly University, these men and women are bringing lots of energy and enthusiasm to every aspect of their work! Here's a little bit about each, in their own words.
ALEX: Hi, my name is Alex and I’m 19 years old. I just finished my junior year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington studying marine biology. I have been interested in anything to do with marine life since before I can remember. Two summers ago I was a junior intern here, and last summer I was a full summer intern. Unfortunately last year we were not doing tours, so this summer I am especially excited to educate visitors about these magnificent animals!
BEN: Hey, I’m Ben! I just finished up my junior year at Virginia Tech and am studying wildlife conservation. My program at school doesn’t have a marine based side to it so this internship has been something that is completely new but I’m loving it. In my future I’d like to do something pertaining to managing habitat conservation projects and further learning about how animals interact within their environment.
BRITTNEY: My name is Brittney. I am currently attending UNC - Wilmington, majoring in Marine Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. I was a junior intern the past two summers at KBSTRRC and I am very excited to be back this summer as a college intern. I’ve had a pure fascination with marine life before I could walk. My wobbly two-year-old self was being held up by my mom studying fish my dad caught and put into clear buckets before releasing them. I believe if you are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life. This is why my career goal is to work in marine rehabilitation.
CHRIS: My name is Chris. I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio, and I just graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Natural Resource Management. I’ve always loved animals since my childhood when I attended zoo camp at my local zoo. In college, I decided to pursue a career in the environmental field, animals in particular. I’ve worked at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden as well as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This is my first time working with marine life, but I enjoy it a lot. It’s also my first time in the wildlife rehabilitation sector. Hopefully I can continue working in rehabilitation after this internship!
CIERRA: My name is Cierra and I am from Springfield, Ohio. I recently graduated spring 2020 with my B.S. in Animal, Poultry, and Veterinary Sciences from Tuskegee University. I just completed my first year of vet school at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine this past year. I started off into the medical field early. I entered the Emergency Medical Tech Program which helped cultivate my clinical skill set and helped develop my communication and leadership skills. During my junior and senior year, I had the opportunity to participate in an internship working with veterinarians in a mixed animal practice with a strong focus in exotic animal medicine. I was able to watch drug administration, parasitology, routine diagnostics, surgery (abdominal and orthopedic), radiology, small animal dentistry, and anesthesia. Shadowing has encouraged me to want to learn more about the modern procedures, equipment, and medicines in veterinary practice. Seeing both perspectives of animal practice within a clinic and outside of one, conservation medicine drew my attention the most. I want to become an Exotic veterinarian who specializes in wildlife to find preventative measures for conservation medicine. I am excited for this internship and working with the sea turtles this summer and educating others while learning new things about each species.
COLTON: My name is Colton and I am from Wilmington Ohio. I currently attend the University of Findlay, majoring in animal science. My experiences working with animals include equestrian and farm animals such as goats, pigs, sheep, cows, llamas, etc. I plan on pursuing a career in working with exotic animals and possibly something in wildlife conservation. This summer is my first time working with marine animals but I am very eager to learn as much as I can about sea turtle conservation and rehabilitation.
JADAH: Hello everyone! My name is Jadah. I am from Jamaica but I migrated to Fayetteville, NC three years ago. I just finished my junior year at Fayetteville State University majoring in Organismal Biology. My goal is to earn my DVM and become an exotic animal or wildlife veterinarian. I have always had a passion and enthusiasm within me for animals. I am super thrilled to be spending my summer helping sea turtles as I have never worked with these ethereal marine creatures before.
JEFF: Hi Everybody! My name is Jeffrey, and I am the head intern this summer at the sea turtle hospital. I am originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 2020 I graduated from UNC-Charlotte. At charlotte I majored in exercise science, where I was also a member of the men’s soccer team. When I first came to Topsail island years ago, I instantly fell in love with the sea turtle hospital. At the time I had no plans of becoming a veterinarian, but I was instantly inspired by the work done here. Fast-forward a few years, I have now served as a college intern and am now serving as the head intern. In addition, thanks to inspiration I gained from the turtles, I am pursing a doctorate in veterinarian medicine at NC State University CVM where I am concentrating in zoological medicine. Topsail island and the sea turtle hospital will always have a special place in my heart, and I am thrilled to work with all the amazing college interns this simmer.
KATELYNN: My name is Katelynn. I am from Janesville, Iowa and am finishing my degree at Iowa State University. I will graduate in December 2021 with a B.S in Animal Ecology and two minors in Animal Science and Leadership Studies. I am currently working on my vet school applications and hope to attend NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. My end goal is to specialize in Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation and also teach in some capacity. I am excited to be an intern this summer at KBSTRRC because I am eager to learn more about Sea Turtle Medicine and be able to make a difference in the lives of the turtles.
RACHEL: My name is Rachel and I’m from Erie, Pennsylvania. I just recently graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a major in Environmental Studies and an English minor. I’ve trained and raised service dogs for 8 years and have previously worked in 2 different vet clinics. Last summer I interned at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center in Grants Pass, OR where I primarily worked with raptors, songbirds, and small mammals. I’ve always wanted to work with marine animals, so this is a dream come true! I’m so honored to have the opportunity to work with these magnificent creatures all most everyday, and I’m really hoping to continue a career in marine life.
TAYLOR: Hi! My name is Taylor and I am originally from Los Angeles, California. I graduated in 2020 from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Marine Sciences. I recently just spent time down in Naples, Florida working with various reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and birds of prey while simultaneously giving virtual encounters about wildlife and conservation. I have always wanted to work with sea turtles since I was 11 years old and stepped foot in my first sea turtle hospital, so this opportunity at the KBSTRRC is a dream come true! In the future, I hope to work in the field of sea turtle conservation and create opportunities for students to get involved in the marine biology world.
This Earth Day, Yelp Wilmington brought sea turtles and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to a worldwide audience! The Yelp Virtual Event: Spend Earth Day with Turtles! featured the Center's aquatic residents, their nurturing staff, and the procedures needed to help rehabilitate and release these majestic creatures back into their natural habitat. Joshua M. (Yelp) and Erik S. (Yelp NC Triad) hosted the event, and nearly 200 participants from around the world joined the event. All showed their love to the Heroes at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, raising over $1,100 to help the turtles through adoptions, donations, and gift shop sales during and immediately after the event. Thank you!
To see information about this and other Yelp virtual events, follow Joshua M. at Yelp Wilmington on Facebook and Instagram, or email him at email@example.com.