Visiting The Topsail Turtle Hospital

Witness rehabilitation efforts & learn about marine conservation!

Visiting The Topsail Turtle Hospital

Topsail Island is a beautiful location, full of beach views and ocean fronts. However, there's more to this island than just its natural beauty. Topsail Turtle Hospital is a non-profit organization that collaborates with volunteers to protect and preserve sea turtles and their natal nesting grounds on Topsail Island.

Where and What Is Topsail?

There is an island in southeastern North Carolina called Topsail. It is located at the end of a 26-mile stretch of beach which is home to three small beach towns. Throughout its history, the island has served as a local picnic spot, an anti-aircraft training base for the Army, and a missile testing operation. Today, the missile assembly building has been converted into a museum, and the launchpad has been transformed into a patio in the downtown district.

In 1948, the military projects on the island came to an end, and the military returned it to the original owners. The roads and bridges were left intact, and the development of the island began. This led to the emergence of Karen Beasley, a resident of Topsail who noticed the need to protect the sea turtles while walking along the beach.

Karen started the program to protect sea turtles' nests, the nesting mothers, and to preserve the beach as a natal nesting site. When Karen passed away, her mother, Jean Beasley, assumed the role of the first executive director of the nesting program and rehabilitation center. Currently, Jean serves on the board.

The Plan Realized

Karen Beasley understood the significance of providing proper care and attention to the turtles. She believed that the injured and sick turtles required a secure and comfortable environment to recover before being released back to the sea. The board and staff were aware that the initial facility, which spanned 900 sq ft, would not be sufficient to accommodate the increasing number of turtles.

In 2010 the groundbreaking for the new facility for sea turtles began, and in 2013 The Sea Turtle Center opened its doors. The upgrade in square footage to 13,000 sq feet allows the turtles, staff, and volunteers the room to give the turtles the best care.

The staff at the Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center considers education and volunteer involvement as bouses. However, their number one goal is to ensure the care and survival of the sea turtle population that uses Topsail and its surrounding beaches as natal nesting grounds.

Though they consider it a privilege to work with these magnificent animals, providing quality care requires significant time and medical expenses. There are various ways to assist in this conservation and preservation effort.

You can help by purchasing tickets and touring the hospital, volunteering during your visit to the island, adopting a turtle that is currently in the care of the turtle hospital, or doing a summer internship. All of these options allow you to learn, grow, and be a part of preserving the heritage of conservation on Topsail Island.

Planning Your Visit To Topsail Turtle Hospital

You can enjoy all the other perks of Topsail's gorgeous views, beaches, and all kinds of summertime fun. But the unforgettable part of this island is the way that the staff and volunteers work together to be a part of preserving safety for thousands of newly hatched sea turtles.

You can plan your visit around one of the hatch dates. Joining in on the fun of watching over the babies as they make the mad dash towards the water and help a 2-ounce baby turtle escape the clutches of ghost crabs and seagulls. 

The nesting program needs volunteers to walk the beach, keep an eye on the turtle nests, and help preserve the beach. You can sign up for an orientation class on the website.

Visit The Turtles In The Hospital

While you are on Topsail Island, you can join a tour of the Turtle Hospital. You will learn about turtle care, sea turtles going through the rehabilitation process, and soon released into the wild while here.

One of the beautiful programs that the Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center offers is internships. You can do more than visit the center and gain one day of education, you can spend 12 weeks as a summer intern and gain work experience, knowledge, and friendships, all while helping nature do what nature does best.

Adopt A Sea Turtle

While you are planning your visit to Topsail Island, you might consider adopting a sea turtle. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center offers multiple adoption packages. These turtle adoptions help to support and care for the turtles that are sick or injured.

You can care for a turtle's financial needs in the packages and receive an information packet and a picture of your adopted turtle. A few of the adoption packages also come with merchandise that represents the project. When you come to stay on Topsail Island, then you can enjoy seeing all that your financial contributions do in person.