Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

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

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 that was injured by a boating strike and unable to be released into the ocean. The juvenile turtle is around age 8 to 11, weighs over 21 pounds, according to the rescue center’s website listing turtles for adoption. He will be renamed at Sea Life.

Sea Life is just now breaking ground on the 5,000-gallon exhibit that will house the turtle initially, curator Rebecca Thomas said in a statement.

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

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

“We are excited to be sending one of our most gregarious and well-loved sea turtles to Sea Life,” Kathy Zagzebski, executive director of the turtle rescue, said in a statement.


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

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

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

“Sweet turtle! Love you and will miss you but happy you’ll be in your forever home in Charlotte! We’ll see you soon!” Rhonda Dawkins said.

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

Buoyancy issues made him non-releasable, according to the center.


The 26,000-square-foot indoor aquarium houses thousands of sea creatures from the North Carolina coastline to the ocean depths with 10 interactive zones, including a sea star touch pool.

The aquarium also includes North Carolina’s only ocean tunnel. The 117,000-gallon, 12-foot deep tropical ocean exhibit has over 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 across four continents.

Ticket prices vary by day starting at $17.99 to 21.99, and up to $27.99 with activities.


The nonprofit sea turtle center started in 1997 and has rescued, rehabilitated and released over 1,100 turtles.

The 14,000-square-foot sea turtle hospital is open to the public. The Topsail Turtle Project protects nesting and hatching turtles along our barrier island and is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

(1) comment

David Collins

Partnering takes money , often lots of it .

Quite sure this will be a crowd pleaser , it is Charlotte after all .

Welcome to the discussion.

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