TOPSAIL ISLAND, NC (WECT) - Earlier this month, half a dozen sea turtles were returned to the ocean after being nursed back to good health from a variety of injuries.
It was a scene that has happened several times a year for over a decade at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital on Topsail Island, but the latest release marked an important occasion.
All of the injured turtles were either Green Turtles or Kemp's Ridley's and had been taken to the Rehabilitation Center.
"Next, they will start their migration at some part, and find warmer water, which is going to right along the Gulf Stream," said Jean Beasley, Executive Director of the Hospital. "They will hang out there until next year, when it starts to get warm again."
The idea for the hospital and rehab center was started by Karen Beasley. Following her death, her mother Jean has kept the center going, along with hundreds of volunteers.
In 1997, the sea turtle facility moved into a 900 square foot facility on Topsail Beach, and for the past 14 years, hundreds of dedicated volunteers have treated these sea creatures.
Within the next few weeks, the hospital will move off Topsail Island to a much larger facility on the mainland.
"We have about 800 square feet right now at the Turtle Hospital, but we will have over 13,000 square feet in the new building," said Beasley. "It is still going to be very modest, like a big warehouse, but we will have a lot more space. Nothing could top what we've had here, it has been a wonderful experience, and it's been wonderful going thru what we have done with the turtles."
Without Jean Beasley's leadership after her daughter passed away, the turtle hospital may not have continued to operate.
In 2007, Jean Beasley was recognized as the Animal Planet network's Animal Hero of the Year for her pioneering work. And because of her continuing leadership, including now being a member of the board of directors for the International Sea Turtle Society, we honor Jean Beasley as our September Cape Fear Hero.
By being named as our Cape Fear Hero, Jean Beasley will receive a $500 gift certificate from Reeds Jewelers.