First Flight Elementary School student Felicity Lipchak recently raised $113.25 for the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, or N.E.S.T.
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the habitat and migration routes of sea turtles that visit Outer Banks shores.
“These type of stories really get to me because they involve someone who is young and gets it about sea turtles,” says N.E.S.T president Dennis Pohl.
Felicity’s affection for marine life began when she was in pre-school at Heron Pond Montessori School, and this past winter, when a hard-freeze and record snowfall forced the closure local schools, the 10-year-old nature lover hatched a plan to raise money to help endangered sea turtles. She watched online tutorials on how to use duct tape to create artwork, which she later sold to family and friends.
The project fueled a desire to help even more, so the fifth-grader enrolled in one of N.E.S.T.’s stranded sea turtle volunteer training classes. Felicity completed the training in March, and she says she plans to do her part to help keep sea turtles and their nests safe.
“If the sea turtles are in need, we humans need to help them,” Felicity says.
The all-volunteer stranding response and rehabilitation organization monitors sea turtle activity from Corolla to the National Park Service area at Bodie Island. Its volunteers also lend a hand at the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center, which works to successfully rehabilitate turtles that suffer injuries, such as ingesting a foreign object, boat strikes and snagged with fishing hooks, and return them back to the wild.
Pohl says of the seven species of marine turtles that occur globally, five occur in the waters of North Carolina:
- Green leatherback
- Kemp’s Ridley
At up to 9 feet in length, the leatherback is largest of the species. It travels the farthest of any sea turtle species, migrating across entire oceans and consuming up to 440 pounds of jellyfish a day, the equivalent of an adult African lion.
“All the species of sea turtle that visit the Outer Banks are threatened or endangered,” he says.
Sea turtle nesting season on the East Coast is from May through September, and during these months, Outer Banks residents and visitors share the beaches with nesting female sea turtles and their unborn offspring.
If you see a stranded or injured sea turtle, or accidentally hook a sea turtle while fishing, call the N.E.S.T. hotline at (252) 441-8622.
For more information and to find out how you can help, visit nestonline.org.