It's sea turtle nesting season on Topsail Island, so we've been putting the spotlight on these awesome and totally lovable reptiles of the sea. In case you missed it, you should read up on What You Need To Know About Sea Turtles on Topsail Island. We promise, you'll learn a lot!
Today, we're focusing on how Topsail Island takes care of its sea turtle population not only during nesting season but all year long. We are extremely proud of our local and regional resources, volunteers and marine experts who help keep this a top priority.
Are you ready to learn more about how Topsail Island takes care of its sea turtles? You'll be happy to know we do a lot here. A lot! We need your help, too, so read on to see what part you play in keeping our sea turtles safe, happy and healthy.
1. Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehab CenterIt's probably one of the best assets to our island. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail is a top-of-the-line resource staffed with dedicated volunteers who make a difference in the lives of sea turtles every single day. This local sea turtle sanctuary is dedicated to the care and release of sick and injured sea turtles. Their goal is the conservation and protection of all species of marine turtles found on our beaches and in our waters.
The Karen Beasley Center also puts education and information about the plight of Topsail's sea turtles at the forefront of their mission. The sea turtle hospital itself is an experiential learning site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and veterinary medicine from around the world. They also spearhead an annual sea turtle beach patrol that combs the 26-mile Topsail Island shoreline every single morning from May through August to identify sea turtle tracks and nests and monitor their progress.
Yes, they're pretty amazing! You can visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center during your Topsail Island visit or read more about them on their website and on the sea turtle hospital's Facebook page. We are so incredibly grateful for all they do!
2. North Carolina Sea Turtle ProjectThe North Carolina Sea Turtle Project is a wonderful resource that is run by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission's Division of Wildlife Management. They are committed to monitoring coastal Carolina's sea turtle population with the help of many volunteers, agencies and organizations statewide. The NC Sea Turtle Project was created to monitor sea turtle activity along the entire coast of North Carolina with sea turtle biologists working to recruit and train volunteers as well as others that participate in the project, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and various State Parks/Recreation Areas. Talk about teamwork!
The North Carolina Sea Turtle Project monitors and records nests, eggs, hatchings and more. The project also monitors, intervenes and assists with sea turtle strandings. For the scientifically-minded and data-inclined, you can learn everything you need to know about the science, research and statistics of this year's sea turtle population here. What an incredible resource it is for our state.
3. Topsail Island Residents, Visitors & VacationersWe'd be remiss not to mention one of our very best resources: YOU. Our local residents, visitors and vacationers are crucial to the success of the sea turtle population. Not only do we have many tireless volunteers that roam our beaches and shorelines every year during nesting season on Topsail Island, but the cooperation of those who choose to visit and vacation on Topsail Island makes such a huge difference as well.
Here are 5 quick and easy things you can do to help save our sea turtles:
1. Turn off visible lights from your Topsail Island vacation rental. Any artificial lighting near the beach can cause confusion for our sea turtles. Sea turtle hatchlings use light and reflections from the moon to find their way to the water at night, so we want to keep them headed in the right direction.
2. Clean up trash on Topsail's beaches. Whether it's your trash or someone else's, cleaning it up is crucial to keeping our sea turtles safe and healthy. Sea turtles can become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by sea turtles, often resulting in injury or death.
3. Be aware of sea turtle nests and keep your distance. Sea turtles are cute, and therefore tempting to touch and observe, but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest, on the beach. Make sure to give nesting areas plenty of space, and do not disturb females as they emerge from the ocean looking for a place to nest. Also be conscious of where nesting areas are so that you can avoid trampling the hatchlings as they head to the water.
4. Limit your chemical use. The chemicals you use on your lawn and in your home can actually wash into the coastal waters â€“ killing plants and animals. It is very important to properly dispose of toxic chemicals and, even better, find alternative products such as biodegradable solutions.
5. Volunteer your time. There are countless ways in which you can make a positive difference in the lives of sea turtles. Organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger.
What is one thing you can do to help Topsail's sea turtles? Every action counts when it comes to preserving and protecting them!