NC Beach Attraction That Saves Sea Creatures Coming Inland | North Carolina News


By CATHERINE MUCCIGROSSO, The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — A new attraction in the Charlotte area will bring a popular North Carolina coastal attraction inland.

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City is partnering with Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium to open a Creature Rescue Center.

Its first resident will be a male sea turtle named Canal who was injured in a collision with a boat and could not be released back into the ocean. The juvenile turtle is around 8 to 11 years old and weighs more than 21 pounds, according to the rescue center’s website listing turtles for adoption. It will be renamed to Sea Life.

Sea Life is launching the 5,000-gallon exhibit that will initially house the turtle, curator Rebecca Thomas said in a statement.

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Visitors will be able to learn about the rehabilitation of injured sea creatures and see the treatment and therapy when the attraction opens. The rescue said on social media that the turtle would be moved this month.

The new attraction will also debut later this month, according to Sea Life.

“We are thrilled to send one of our most gregarious and beloved sea turtles to Sea Life,” Kathy Zagzebski, executive director of turtle rescue, said in a statement.


Canal received a warm bon voyage for her new adventure on the rescue center’s Facebook page and bulletin board.

“My daughter took care of Canal last summer at Sea Turtle Camp. She loves it! We will definitely be visiting her in Charlotte!” said Katy Jopperi-Davis.

Lisa Meeks also wished him well. “Goodbye Channel. May you have a long life in your new home at Sea Life,” she said.

“Sweet turtle! I love you and will miss you but glad you are in your forever home in Charlotte! We’ll see you soon!” Rhonda Dawkins said.

The rescue of sea turtles near Topsail Island is one of the main attractions. Canal came to the rescue in 2015 after a fisherman found him in a canal at Ocean Isle Beach, according to the center’s website.

Buoyancy issues rendered him unreleasable, according to the center.


The 26,000 square foot indoor aquarium is home to thousands of sea creatures from coastal North Carolina to the depths of the ocean with 10 interactive zones, including a starfish touch pool.

The aquarium also includes North Carolina’s only ocean tunnel. The 117,000-gallon, 12-foot-deep tropical ocean exhibit features more than 800 animals, including a green sea turtle named Neptune, according to Sea Life.

The aquarium, owned by Merlin Entertainments, opened in February 2014. The 23-year-old British company operates 138 attractions, 23 hotels and six holiday villages in 24 countries on four continents.

Ticket prices vary by day from $17.99 up to $21.99 and up to $27.99 with activities.


The non-profit sea turtle center started in 1997 and has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 1,100 turtles.

The 14,000 square foot sea turtle hospital is open to the public. The Topsail Turtle Project protects the turtles that nest and hatch along our barrier island and is licensed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

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