Local News

Sea Turtles, Vet Students Come Out Their Shells

Posted September 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— They are majestic creatures gliding quietly beneath the ocean's surface. But as our waterways become more crowded with people, life for sea turtles gets more dangerous. There's a place here in the Triangle where the gentle giants are getting the help they need.

It's the ultimate clash between machine and nature, a boat propeller and a sea turtle. Their shells are shattered by the blades. But at NC State's Vet school, turtles like Kitty are repaired. Vets say it's a rare to pleasure to work on these magnificent creatures.

"They're gentle. They're slow moving. They do have their own personalities," explains veterinarian Greg Lewbart. "They live a long time. They're threatened. Their numbers are dwindling, and people are trying to help them."

Corey is an 82 pound injured loggerhead sea turtle. She has a cut right down the middle of her shell, and volunteers say rubbing her or patting her on the back of her shell is very soothing.

Volunteers like Jean Beasley are always ready to lend a comforting hand to a sea turtle. Beasley heads up The Topsail Turtle Project, a group which brings injured turtles from the coast to the vet school and nurses them back to health.

"When you see there are turtles that are suffering injuries because we share their world, you feel that you have to give something back," Beasley says. They certainly deserve our consideration and our help."

The vet school donates it's time and resources to help the turtles. In return, students get experience they can't get anywhere else.

Student Julie Roos has never worked on sea turtles before. She says it's wonderful and very exciting.

And thanks to the hard work of students and volunteers, the gentle animals will soon be swimming home.

The Vet school treats about a dozen sea turtles like Kitty and Corey a year. They are named for the areas where they were found, Kitty Hawk and Core Sound.