Perhaps of all aquatic species, the one that captures my imagination the most is the loggerhead sea turtle. The life of a loggerhead starts so precariously, as the baby sea turtle hatches from its egg, digs out of its nest and slowly crawls across hundreds of yards of beach along with close to 100 of its nest mates. That crawl is full of peril. Land and air based predators abound and many of these turtles will not live long enough to actually reach the water. Once it reaches the water, the baby sea turtle at least is in its more natural element but it still faces many threats from marine predators. It is estimated that only one in five thousand sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood. But those loggerheads that do survive that long are amazing. They are colorful and huge. An adult loggerhead on average will weigh about 250 pounds and will be three feet in length. Watching a loggerhead swim is a peaceful and magical experience.
Unfortunately though, like so many other species that live in coastal areas, the loggerhead sea turtle population has declined significantly over the past few decades. Its nesting habitat has been drastically reduced due to coastal area residential and commercial development. Their numbers are also affected negatively by certain commercial fishing practices, recreational boating, pollution, etc. Their decline in numbers has led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to officially declare them a threatened species. Compared to many other sea turtle species though the loggerhead is faring well. Green, leatherback, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are all listed as endangered.
So I was really happy to see a front page article in the Charlotte Observer on August 15 focused on the work of Jean Beasley. Jean founded the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (named for Jean’s daughter) in 1997. It is located at Topsail Beach, NC (near Wilmington). The Center takes in injured and sick sea turtles and rehabilitates them until they are ready to be re-released in the wild again. At the time the article appeared in the Charlotte Observer the Rehabilitation Center housed 21 sea turtles. In its 14 years of operation, this sea turtle hospital has been responsible for rehabilitating and releasing over 300 sea turtles! Even more impressive are the facts that this facility is run entirely by volunteers and is funded almost completely via small donations.
Amazingly, Jean Beasley has accomplished all of this very frugally. She has actually been able to save enough of the donation money over the years so that the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center will be able to move to a much larger and more modern building this winter! With the larger facilities, Jean and her volunteer staff will be in a position to save even more of these incredible creatures!
I look forward to one day visiting the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center with my family!
I mentioned at the start of this post that loggerhead sea turtles capture my imagination. Are there animals that capture your imagination? Do you know of organizations that exist to help them? Do you know other inspiring examples of people who have devoted time, effort, and resources to help animals, birds, fish, nature, other people, etc.? Please feel free to share your answers to any of these questions and more in the Comments area! I would love to hear from you!
To learn more about Jean’s work and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue Cennter please visit these sites:
Charlotte Observer article from August 15, 2011 – http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/08/14/2527853/north-carolina-turtles-have-a.html
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center Website – http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/
To learn more about sea turtles:
Loggerhead Sea Turtles – http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=C00U
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Information (NC) – http://www.fws.gov/nc-es/media/Microsoft_Word_-_NMA23SeaTurtles.pdf
– Steve Strother