The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society held its monthly meeting on Monday, August 15, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.
In 1986 Susi Clontz was working at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. She befriended many people including school teacher Charlie Baker. Charlie was also the sea turtle monitoring coordinator of Figure Eight and Hutaff Islands. After many conversations with Susi about animal conservation, Charlie mentioned that Kure Beach was in need of a coordinator and thought Susi would be perfect for the job. Being the country girl that she was, Susi was somewhat reluctant but Charlie persisted promising to teach her all she needed to know about sea turtles.
In 1987 with new found knowledge and permit in hand Susi began her first season as sea turtle monitoring coordinator of Kure Beach. At first she walked the three miles of beach every morning alone searching for signs of nesting turtles – something that she had only seen in pictures. It didn’t take long before she realized that she couldn’t do this by herself so she drafted her husband Rusty who was willing to help but just as inexperienced as Susi. Neither of them had ever seen a real crawl. They were told it looked like a single tractor tire track coming out of the water and going back in. They did finally find one that season and the excitement was overwhelming. They were hooked for life.
For many years it was just Rusty and Susi but along the way they gathered others that were just as interested in helping save the sea turtles as they were. In 2001 the volunteer program was officially put in place to help Susi and Rusty with nest monitoring and in 2003 “The Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project” was born and became incorporated as a non-profit organization. Susi and Rusty were surprised at the overwhelming support they received from the community. They had no idea there were so many people who loved sea turtles as much as they do.