Marine Biology Immersion Camp


During this eleven day program, you will develop an appreciation and respect for our oceans that will remain with you for a lifetime. Join teens from all over the world as we immerse ourselves in the care of sea turtles and explore the habitats that support them. You will work alongside the volunteers and interns of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. From preparing food to cleaning tanks, you will understand the enormous amount of time, effort and love poured into every turtle.

You will earn 25 community service hours through your work at The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, beach sweeps and public outreach. We will research, prepare and present a lesson to the public describing the challenges facing all sea turtles. While walking the beaches looking for nesting mothers, we’ll learn about nocturnal adaptations. We’ll also patrol in the mornings looking for fresh tracks.

Each day we will explore different coastal habitats from maritime forests to salt marshes to the ocean’s edge. By understanding these ecosystems we will better appreciate the plight of the sea turtle. Since the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network began keeping records in 1986, the number of stranded turtles has more than doubled, illustrating how much work there is to be done. When not preparing food or cleaning tanks, we will discover the wonders of our local coastal habitats from the muddy marsh bottom to the crest of breaking waves.

This camp is designed for students, ages 13-17, who are passionate about sea turtles and the marine environment. Join us on our next adventure as we:

  • Participate in rehabilitation at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
  • Search for turtle nests during nest walks
  • Conduct water quality testing
  • Tidepool in North Carolina’s only natural rocky outcrop
  • Get a ranger-lead tour of Fort Fisher State Park
  • Boogie board and/or surf!
  • Participate in a behind the scenes tour at the North Carolina Aquarium
  • Conduct a marine sampling trawl aboard a research vessel
  • Study sea turtle necropsy and physiology
  • Study marine debris in the Sargasso Sea and other ocean gyres
  • Species identification in local salt marshes
  • Earn twenty five hours of community service credit

Due to our commitment to personal instruction, we maintain a 4:1 camper to staff ratio and camp sessions will be limited to 24 students. This guarantees that everyone has the best experience possible.

Camp tuition includes: lodging on Topsail Island, all meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day, 24-hour same-gender adult supervision, admission to all activities, all equipment, transportation including pickup and drop off from the Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Sea Turtle Hospital donation, community service certificate, Sea Turtle Camp T-shirt and memorable group photo. Campers are responsible for round trip airfare to ILM or transportation to Topsail Island and additional money for snacks and souvenirs.

Tuition: $3359

Deposit: $$995

2019 Marine Biology Camp Dates:

Limited Availability
06/16 - 06/26
Ages 13-17
07/07 - 07/17
Ages 13-17


Coastal North Carolina is surrounded by rich marine ecosystems filled with countless aquatic species. From miles of white sand beaches to fluctuating and dynamic salt marsh habitats, Sea Turtle Camp gives you the opportunity to explore and study these amazing ecosystems. We provide teenagers with the opportunity to learn more about marine biology through hands-on, feet-wet experiential educational. Campers get the extraordinary opportunity to work with live sea turtles as well as participate in some amazing daily activities designed to teach them through experience instead of out of a textbook.

During this amazing adventure you will:

  • Volunteer at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
  • Conduct a beach sweep and learn about marine debris
  • Explore the underwater world with a 2-hour Discover SCUBA course (optional)
  • Participate in night time sea turtle nest/hatchling watch
  • Explore the salt marsh and learn its vital role in the food chain
  • Study Floating Dock Ecology
  • Learn Sandstone Ecology in NC’s only natural rocky outcrop
  • Conduct water quality testing
  • Explore unspoiled stretches of beach on Baldhead Island
  • Study dune/beach Ecology
  • Visit the county landfill and recycling center WASTEC
  • Stand Up Paddleboard eco-tour through barrier island sounds
    or a surfing lesson with the pros at WB Surf Camp

While at camp, students will be staying in the heart of the sea turtle action on Topsail Island. Pronounced Tops’l by the locals, this 26-mile long, quarter-mile wide barrier island has a rich history filled with pirates, fishermen and surfers. Since Topsail Island is one of the less developed barrier islands in the area, groves of maritime forest still dot the island and are rumored to hide Blackbeard’s treasure. Nowadays, Topsail is known as a laid-back beach town and a sanctuary for sea turtles.

Campers will be housed in fully furnished retreat center with an ocean view and beach access just a few feet away. This is an ideal location, as we will only be steps from our outdoor classroom. Students will see the sun rise over the ocean during morning nest patrols and the sun set behind the facility shortly before the camp bonfire.


Students will enjoy dining together in our very own dining hall.

The rooms are gender-specific and feature air-conditioning, comfortable common areas and gender specific bathrooms. Each participant will have his or her own bed. Sea Turtle Camp staff members are housed on-site and will provide 24-hour, same gender adult supervision.

Campers will not only enjoy the breathtaking sunsets from the decks of the Retreat Center, but also private beach access, campfires and outdoor activities such as volleyball, corn hole, spikeball, basketball and much more.

As we are only minutes from the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and beach, we can have a more active role in providing care to the turtles at the hospital and assisting the Topsail Beach Nesting Patrol. More hands-on opportunities and nest watching means more fun for the campers!


Do I get to see real live sea turtles?

  • YES!!! We work very closely with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center who have an average occupancy of about 20 sea turtles with varying degrees of injury or illness. Some are even permanent residents due to the severity of their injury. The NC Aquarium usually houses a few behind the scenes and from time to time we even see them out in the ocean.

What kind of community service will I be doing?

  • At Sea Turtle Camp service is the most rewarding part of our program, and we like to think of it as service learning. Everything we do at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, from working directly with live sea turtles, cleaning, and feeding sounds more like enjoyment than service, but it is. We also conduct beach sweeps in the local area.

Should I bring a friend?

  • While most participants come alone, you are welcome to come with a friend. Please indicate if you would like to room with someone specific.

How old are the campers I will be rooming with?

  • Roommates are grouped together by age in order to enhance the overall level of comfort. There are 5 campers and 1 counselor to each bunk.

I am a finicky eater. Can you cater to special diets?

  • Yes we can. We know how important it is to eat healthy meals when you are outside and at the beach all day long. We’ll ask you in a questionnaire what types of food, snacks, and drinks you prefer.

What do I need to bring?

  • A complete packing list will be included with your informational registration packet.

What sort of payment do you accept?

  • We accept checks, money orders, or VISA/MC/AMEX credit cards. All credit card payments are processed online using a secure server. There is a $50 service charge for all returned checks. With the exception of the trip deposit, a 3% credit card surcharge will be assessed to all payments made by credit card. Please review our cancellation policy. Deposits are not refundable after we have received teacher references and your camper is accepted into a program.

What airport is best to fly into for your program, and do you provide a shuttle service?

  • The best airport to fly into is the Wilmington International Airport (ILM), which is located a short drive from our suites on Topsail. Our educators meet all participants at baggage claim. The shuttle cost to and from this airport is included in program tuition.

What if I can’t get in by the set check in time?

  • Please contact our Program Coordinator to discuss arrivals and departures outside of our preferred times. In order to avoid missing any planned activities, participants should try to arrive between 1 – 2 pm on the first day and depart around 1 -2pm on the last day of camp.

What if my luggage doesn’t make it?

  • Occasionally the airlines will misplace luggage or your suitcases will miss connecting flights. We recommend keeping essentials, such as medications, toiletries, bathing suit, and extra change of clothes, in their carry-on luggage just in case. We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance.

What is your cancellation policy?

  • Sea Turtle Camp is an extremely high quality, tight margined program, with limited space. Therefore, once your student has been accepted into the program, exceptions to this policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather or personal emergencies. Please review the terms of our cancellation policy. In order to enroll in camp you must agree to these terms.

Do you have insurance?

  • We carry a comprehensive insurance package, including general liability. Once again, travel insurance is recommended.

How much spending money should I bring?

  • We recommend campers bring $50 to $75 per week of camp. This is for snacks, souvenirs or gifts you wish to purchase while at camp.

Does my child need to know how to swim to be able to attend this program?

  • Yes. Due to the nature of this program, all campers must be able to swim and have a basic level of comfort in the water.