Jean Beasley, the founder and director of The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach, gave John and me a private tour of the hospital yesterday. Jean is a dynamo, and the turtles are her passion. I’ve heard about the hospital for years, but this was my first visit and I had to share it with my readers. John took these pictures. He had to take them with natural light–and there’s not much of it in this little building. The turtles’ eyes are too sensitive to light to use a flash.
The turtles come to the hospital from all over the east coast. Many of them are injured by boat propellers, like this one above who is fortunately healing well. Some have lost flippers to sharks. Others have fungal or viral diseases. The goal is, of course, to eventually release the rehabilitated turtles to the wild. Every one of these tanks has a huge turtle in it. You can see the building is bursting at the seams. In another year or two, the hospital will be able to move to a much larger facility on the mainland. (If you’re moved by the plight of these magnificent creatures, you can contribute to the hospital on its website. Although the hospital staff is made up of volunteers, the vet bills are staggering). Although I’m working on my second book set on Topsail Island, you won’t read about the turtles in either of them. That’s because of my good friend and fellow author, Mary Alice Monroe. Several years ago, Mary Alice and I participated in an author event here in Topsail. I fell instantly in love with the island and asked her if she minded if I “took” it for one of my books. (This is typical author-speak among author friends.) She said I could have the island, but she got the turtles. Mary Alice is a turtle volunteer in her home state of South Carolina and she writes beautifully about them. They have her heart. So that is why you won’t read about the turtle hospital in my Topsail books. However, I never said I wouldn’t write about them in my blog! John and I leave here tomorrow. I’ve gathered loads of info and I’ll write more about that in a day or so. Meanwhile, here’s another turtle, and then Jean and myself in front of the hospital.
alll images copyright 2008 John Pagliuca