By Char Chamfield
When I heard about young Rebecca Puzan’s move from Byron Center, Michigan to Wilmington, North Carolina, I thought, “There’s got to be a story there!” After all, we know this family well in our Holy Trinity Episcopal parish.
Rebecca is the daughter of Melissa and Mike Puzan and the sister of Sarah. Her legacy from attending Byron Center High School includes being on the swim and track team, participating in leadership training, and being a member of the National Honor Society. Rebecca (as she prefers to be called) will graduate from Sanford Brown University this month in Applied Sciences. In the meantime, she is waiting to be deemed a Licensed Veterinary Technician after a successful internship at Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital in Rockford. Her decision to move to Wilmington is just a part of her master plan.
Since middle school, Rebecca has had an intense desire to work with sea turtles. Conveniently, she also has an intense dislike of cold weather. Wilmington, NC is home to two well-known sea turtle conservatories and hospitals. One is at Wrightsville Beach and the other is at Topsail (pronounced Top’ sill) Island. Each location depends on a large group of volunteers to stay operational. There are few paid positions.
Knowing Rebecca is passionate about working with sea turtles, her mom, Melissa said, ““I’ll miss her terribly but I want her to be able to follow her dreams.”
Sea turtles are an endangered species; there are seven types of sea turtles in the US. The beach areas of Wilmington are patrolled by the volunteers during nesting and hatching times to protect the babies. Sick and/or injured sea turtles are rescued and taken to the hospital(s) for treatment, rehabilitation and release. Often tracking devices are attached to the ‘patients’ to enable monitoring of movement and habitat. Some sea turtles eat jelly fish; others are more vegan and help to control the sea grasses.
“Sea turtles usually return to their place of hatching to create their nests and hatch their eggs for the next generation of the species,” says Puzan. “The younger turtles usually stay between the beach and the reefs, while the older turtles go farther out into the deeper waters of the ocean.”
Puzan has found research that plastic bags in the ocean pose a threat to sea turtles. According to her, the creatures can mistake the floating bags for jelly fish and ingest them, creating health problems and even death.
At Sea Turtle Camp, people of all ages can experience looking into the eyes of a live 200 pound turtle and learn more about marine biology. It is possible for the participants at Sea Turtle Camp to gain a life changing appreciation for coastal conservation. Their brochures offer the opportunity to “Sea Life” differently. For Rebecca Puzan, she’ll have the chance to experience these opportunities and more as a new employee at the Myrtle Grove Animal Hospital. We look forward to hearing more about her discoveries there, and extend our best wishes to her on her journey with sea turtles.