Why messing with sea turtle nests is a big deal - WFLA News Channel 8

Why messing with sea turtle nests is a big deal

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Photos of man accused of disturbing sea turtle nest Photos of man accused of disturbing sea turtle nest
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

Two weeks ago, a man was caught allegedly disturbing a sea turtle nest.

Officials say messing with a sea turtle nest is not only illegal, but it's hazardous to the animals.

On August 13th, a woman snapped pictures of a man allegedly disturbing a sea turtle nest on private property along Casey Key.

"He explained that he was going to dig up this nest because it was an older nest, and then take the eggs home and release them at a later date," FWC Officer Scott Kirsch said.

Wildlife officials say the eggs from that nest have already hatched.  The experts don't know if the man removed any eggs.

Messing with sea turtle nests is a third degree felony, which means up to a $5,000 fine, or even up to five years in prison.

"It's a pretty big deal," said Officer Kirsch.  "We like to protect our resources, and they are an endangered species, a threatened species."

Sarasota County Wildlife Specialist Keri Nelson says it's vital that turtle eggs remain underground and undisturbed during their incubation period.

"The sex of the sea turtle is temperature-dependent," Nelson said.  "So if someone comes in and starts messing with the eggs, taking them out, moving them around, you're going to interfere with the natural development of the embryo."

Officials say these baby turtles have enough obstacles as it is.  After they hatch, they run the risk of being eaten by predators.  Wildlife experts estimate only 1 in 1,000 survive to adulthood.

If you know anything about this crime, or see anyone else disturbing sea turtle nests, call the wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-3922.

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