Endangered sea turtle concerns grow as holiday beachgoers increase

Endangered sea turtle concerns grow as holiday beachgoers increase

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A disturbing video is gaining attention on Twitter: Beachgoers in a Boca Raton crowd around what appears to be a disrupted sea turtle nest.

Experts say climate change, pollution and plastics are already a problem for endangered sea turtles -- irresponsible beach goers during a holiday week only make matters worse.

“I think they should be pre-educated,” said Francesca Wight Prado, a Palm Beach County resident and beachgoer who viewed the Twitter post. “I guess schools in general should be educated on not disrupting animals in general.”

Sea turtle nesting season runs March 1 to Nov. 15 and there’s a reason there’s visible signage to deter Fourth of July holiday week beachgoers from impeding on nests. Violators are subject to state and federal penalties for disturbing, harassing, poaching and killing sea turtles.

”Sea turtle eggs if they are rotated at any time during development will die,” said Dr. Justin Perrault, director of research for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “If the infraction is bad enough it can be thousands of dollars worth of fines and jail time.”

He and other experts say people who don’t have respect for the law should be prepared for the consequences.

”It’s really important to learn the rules of the local wildlife,” Dr. Perrault added.

FOX 29 has reached out to see if the incident is under investigation. A spokesperson with the Boca Raton Police Dept. says Gumbo Limbo Nature Center responded to the incident and “all of the turtles were recovered.” The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was notified.

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 report it online. Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

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