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.
Going Local Art Gallery held their first annual For the Love of Turtles Art Show and Art Contest to benefit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and to support local artists!
A VIP Event opened the show on March 12. Guests had the opportunity to preview and buy the art and learn more about Going Local and the Karen Beasley Center!
The Art Exhibition & Sale - was March 13 through 21 at the Going Local Art Gallery in Mayfaire, 6818 Main Street, Wilmington, NC. Free and open to the public, it was well attended and people enjoyed seeing the amazing turtle art!
THANK YOU SPONSORS:
Thank you to the following sponsors who are making this event possible!
Premier Sponsor & Host:
Loggerhead Level ($250+):
Kemp's Ridley Level ($100+):
WELCOME KATHY ZAGZEBSKI
The KBSTRRC Board of Directors and Staff are pleased to welcome our new Executive Director, Kathy Zagzebski. Clearly, no one person will ever be able to fill the very large footprint of our Founder and current Executive Director, Jean Beasley. But after more than four decades in the “turtle business” Jean is retiring this spring to spend much of each year with her family in Tennessee.
Kathy has over twenty-six years of experience working with stranded marine animals not only on our NC coast but also on the beaches of Georgia, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, where she was the Executive Director and President of the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay. This winter she had the monumental task of admitting, caring for and relocating over two-hundred cold stun turtles, several of which are now receiving further treatment in our hospital.
Kathy: “I'm excited to join the fabulous team at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
I feel honored to carry forward Karen Beasley's dream and Jean Beasley's wonderful legacy. It's such a privilege to help sick and injured sea turtles recover so they can be released back to their ocean home!”