News From The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation – David Allred


David Allred

Summer intern David Allred at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Hospital

Spotlight on David Allred

People who are successful in life are those who constantly seek knowledge and embrace challenges, David Allred recognized that our internship was his opportunity to do just that. He admits that he was attracted to our hospital because he was “naïve” about working with sea turtles and he had no idea what might be involved in their rehab. He did know that they were “really cool creatures,” so when his adviser at Appalachian State presented our program as an option, he jumped on it.

David may not have had much interaction with sea turtles, but he’s seen a lot of other critters as part of his job at a vet clinic. Starting out as a kennel assistant during high school, he’s worked his way up to a position of surgical assistant. Even though he’s used to touching almost every part of an animal, he was in awe when he actually got to lay his hands on one that is federally protected. He found it “exciting” to learn that we expected him to do just that, and was honored that we were entrusting him with the care of our patients.

They say that your first love is always special. Maybe that’s why “Little Ray” remains David’s favorite turtle. He was David’s “first,” and, to this day, he makes sure that both Ray and his tank are kept sparkling clean. Working with this little guy made his transition to “handling the big guys” (Loggerheads) seamless. Even though he professes to like all of our turtles, he feels that the Greens have a special niche in the ecosystem (as herbivores) and that their physical beauty qualifies them for “sea turtle poster child” status.

He’s had several stand-out experiences since he’s been here. Our June release, where he was part of the “Chase” release team, was a “nice birthday present.” He notes that there was a huge potential for chaos, but because of the camaraderie and excellent organization the whole event ran like clockwork. In fact, David made a point of saying that he has never been part of a volunteer organization with a staff more dedicated and more willing to do whatever it takes to get things done. He singled out Jean as amazing, willing to drop what she’s doing any time of the day or night to tend to a sick or injured turtle. “She never puts anything off, no matter how tired she might be.”

In addition to working at the hospital, our interns are part of the beach crew, getting the night calls when there’s a sighting of a nesting mama. David’s been lucky enough to watch three nestings so far, and has participated in moving two of them to safer places on higher ground.

With his eyes on vet school in a few years, this Asheboro, North Carolina, native soon heads back to Appalachian State, (Boone, NC), as a junior, where he will continue his studies in biology, with a minor in chemistry. When he’s not in class, he’ll be working in a biology lab where he’s breeding mice for a research program (VEGF – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). He’s also in the school’s Fly Fishing and Health Professions Clubs. While still here on the island, he spends his spare time outdoors as much as possible, hiking and fishing. You can meet David during our tours, and he likes it when you ask hard questions!

Hospital open for tours

We continue to be a destination spot for visitors and locals no matter what the weather, no matter how long the lines. On your tour, you’ll meet five of our current patients, including our resident Kemp’s, crowd favorite and Sea Turtle Hospital Ambassador, “Lennie.” Watch for details on “Lennie’s Fan Club” when we move into our new building. Tours are held from 2:00 – 4:00 pm daily, (EXCEPT Wednesdays and Sundays.)

Our gift shop is also open during those hours and we’ve restocked our inventory with plenty of exclusive turtle hospital merchandise. As the summer wears on, the lines get longer; so, be prepared with sunscreen, and umbrellas for shade. We do have water available for $1, and for the first time in many years, you will be able to take photos inside the hospital as long as you turn off the flash on your camera. We’ll be at our current location in Topsail Beach, (behind the big, blue water tower), until further notice, but we’ll keep you updated on the move to our new facility as we get closer to completing it.

For those of you wondering what happened to our Wednesday “Turtle Talks” – it’s on hiatus until we move into the new facility. We’ll be back! Nesting heats up Those Loggerhead mamas keep coming. We currently have over fifty nests and we still have about six weeks left in the official nesting season, (ending August 31st).

Several weeks ago, Michael Coyne was on hand to satellite tag a large mama, (“Lauren”),that visited the north end of the island. You can track her travels by visiting his website: www.seaturtle.org.

Our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers scour every grain of sand on the island each morning looking for turtle tracks. Once tracks are found and a nest is verified, it’s staked, marked, and added to the list on our website Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Hospital.

One of the FAQ’s from visitors is “when/where do they nest?” We’re not being evasive when we can’t answer, even though we are prohibited by law from disclosing the exact location of an existing nest. We don’t have any advance notice from the turtles as to when and where they’re going to show up. They’re on their own schedule and they chose their own nesting site. They don’t play favorites and we find nests or happen upon nesting mamas the same way you do – by chance.

Our visitors and locals play an important part in our work and we rely on you to be our eyes on the beach as we can’t keep watch 24/7. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (nestings, strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880. Terry can be reached at: topsailseaturtle@aol.com for non-emergencies. You can also call our Director, Jean Beasley (910-470-2800) or the hospital (910-328-3377) to report activity if you are unable to reach of Terry. All sea turtles are federally protected and harassing or harming them in any way will result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.

Questions, comments, suggestions??

Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: flippers@att.net. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: flippers@att.net. If your e-mail address has recently changed, please send me your new one so I can update my master list. You can also access the newsletter from our website.