Posted by Michaela LeMay | 11.14.2023 | Marine Science, Sea Turtle Camp

A Week in the Life: Marine Biology Adventure Edition

Day 1: It’s Sunday afternoon and campers begin to arrive at our beautiful ocean-view accommodations, “The Shack,” in North Topsail Beach, NC. Sea Turtle Camp staff help campers with getting settled into their new rooms for the next 6 days and then camp activities officially begin! We start with an orientation and “get to know you” activity. We follow up with a quick swim test for ocean safety. Dinner is in our full commercial kitchen, and it is always delicious! The night ends with some “family time”, where we spend some time getting to know each other. We end the night with a campfire and s’mores!

Day 2: Our first morning starts with an early breakfast and our first shift volunteering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital.  This morning we get to meet all of the hospital interns, get a tour of the hospital, and meet all of the sea turtle patients. We learn about food preparation and get to help feed some of the turtles.  Some of the turtles are picky eaters and take a bit of time to eat! We also get to learn from a veterinarian about medical procedures that are currently being done at the hospital. We head back to The Shack for some beach time and a few sea turtle games.  Next, we dissect a squid and a dogfish shark! We have a delicious dinner and end the night learning how to use a dichotomous key with sea turtle species. We end the night with a sea turtle nest patrol and a short night hike on the beach. We are sure to take our red flashlights just in case we see a sea turtle!

Day 3:  Our first activity this morning is kayaking in the salt marsh! Then we grab our packed lunch and head off to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where we get a behind-the-scenes tour. We learn all about water quality and monitoring, feeding schedules, habitat maintenance, and more! We head back to The Shack for dinner. We end the night tie-dyeing t-shirts and how certain animals are adapted to life at night!

Day 4: Today is our second shift at the Sea Turtle Hospital.  We help with morning feedings and cleaning up around the hospital. The floors around the tanks get really wet so we help mop up the mess!  Just like the interns, we do some other housekeeping tasks around the hospital. Before we head out for lunch, we learn about how scientists weigh, measure, and gauge the health of an incoming patient. After lunch, we head back to the Sea Turtle Hospital to do some public outreach where we get to teach the public about how each person can help protect these incredible animals. We head back to The Shack and learn about microscopes by learning some plankton before we head to dinner. The evening is complete with a lesson on marine debris and a beach sweep to look for trash left behind by beachgoers.

Day 5: It’s our last full day and it’s packed with marine science activities.  We start the morning exploring the salt marsh for a few hours. Here we learn about fish, crabs, and other salt marsh-loving plants and animals. While we are there, we head to the dry sand and talk about how sea turtle mamas lay their eggs and learn how the temperature of the sand will determine what gender the baby sea turtles will be.  We have a quick lunch and then the afternoon is spent learning about how the shape of a fish helps it survive in the environment it lives in.  Then we learn about the Japanese art of fish printing and make a few prints ourselves. We have some beach time before our Luau-style dinner.  The night ends with a closing campfire and dance party!

Day 6: Our final morning is doing a final beach sweep for debris and some last-minute packing. We get to learn about all of the sea turtles that are being rehabilitated and getting ready to be released! We finish up at the hospital, exchange phone numbers and social media handles, and get ready to say our tearful goodbyes.