Florida Authorities Seek Person(s) Who Ran Over 8 Sea Turtle Nests
June 28, 2018
Authorities are seeking information on who drove a vehicle over eight protected sea turtle nests in Siesta Key, FL, potentially damaging the eggs buried in the nest. On the morning of June 22, researchers with the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium found tire markings over nests that had been clearly marked, and markings over possible nests that had not yet been marked. It is believed the person or persons drove over the nests with a golf cart of ATV.
"They don't have that hard exterior shell like chicken eggs have that a lot of people are familiar with, they just have a leathery skin, so they are pretty prone to crushing and popping," Mote Marie Laboratory Senior Biologist Melissa Bernhard told WFLA. Bernhard said that it would be difficult to determine how damaged the eggs in the nests are without causing potential damage while disturbing them.
R.A.R. de Bruijn Holding BV/Shutterstock
Sea turtle nests are protected by Florida state and federal law.
"There's just no words and I can actually cry right now and when I think about it, it's just heartbreaking,” beachgoer Lenore Zupko told WFLA. "This is their habitat, we're here actually, like visiting, in a way,” Zupko said.
All sea turtles are federally protected, and it is illegal to disturb their nests. Persons who have intentionally damaged or destroyed sea turtle nests face civil penalties of up to $25,000 and criminal penalties of up to $100,000 plus a year in prison.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hoping to find the person or people responsible. For those with any information, the FWC can be contacted at 888-404-FWCC.