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Sea Turtle patrol leaders are calling on the community to help protect these endangered reptiles.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The Ponte Vedra Sea Turtle Patrol found a destroyed sea turtle nest on Friday, forcing volunteers to re-bury eggs and install a new barrier.
Now patrol leaders are calling on the community to help protect these endangered reptiles.
“This beach is for everyone, and that includes the turtles,” Sandra Stam, a volunteer with the Ponte Vedra Sea Turtle Patrol, said.
Every morning during nesting season, from May to October, members of the Ponte Vedra Sea Turtle Patrol walk the sand checking established nests and looking for new mothers.
On Friday members came across what they are calling a disturbing sight.
“You saw nothing but trash, a lot of litter. Primarily alcoholic beverages and then all of a sudden we noticed that all of the stakes for the nest had been broken and torn down and thrown along the beach,” Hallie Day, a volunteer with the Ponte Vedra Sea Turtle Patrol, said.
The patrol believes the damaged happened Thursday night, when a group was partying on the beach. Five turtle eggs that had washed out of the nest had to be reburied, and volunteer spent hours putting the barrier back together.
“It sickened me honestly, and it really saddened me because I know what the damage was that I observed,” Day said.
Day says nests a nest can have on average 100 eggs and some of the most endangered species, like this Loggerhead turtle, nest on Florida beaches.
Disturbing sea turtles nests is both a federal and state crime. Violators can face hefty fines, and even a third degree felony for taking more than 11 eggs.
“This population has been threaten and we’re trying to preserve it for future generations. Parents should educate their children to stay away from things like that, tell them what it is, explain but this beach is for everyone and that means the turtles too,” Stam said.
The Sea turtle patrol puts this warning on stakes surrounding the nest, along with information on who to call if a nest is damaged.
“Keep the beach clean, dark and flat. We need everybody’s help, we all need to work together,” Day said.
To report someone disturbing a sea turtle nest or an injured, dead or harassed sea turtle call Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) or the Ponte Vedra Sea Turtle Patrol to report it.