MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Sea turtle nesting season begins Tuesday and Myrtle Beach officials are asking people not to interfere with the nests.
Myrtle Beach police say they’ve received reports of people shining flashlights on sea turtles trying to come ashore at night to nest in the sand. Other reports indicate people have scared away the nesting sea turtles. Officials are reminding people to keep their distance from the turtles for a few reasons.
Sea turtles are protected by federal law, which means, heavy fines and jail time can be imposed on those caught disturbing the animals. Officials ask people on the beach to not shine a light on the sea turtles or otherwise disturb it.
“Respect sea turtles by viewing these protected animals responsibly,” a Facebook post from the city suggests. “Do not harm, harass, pick up, ride, straddle, restrain, jump over, injure, kill or otherwise disturb sea turtles.”
Officials say feeding the turtles is also prohibited.
There Aren’t Many Left
Worldwildlife.org reports nearly all species of sea turtles are considered endangered. A number of factors play into the decrease of sea turtles – poaching, climate change, habitat destruction – so officials are asking for help protecting the animals.
The animals are protected under the Marine Turtle Protection Act. The act states that “no person may take, possess, disturb, mutilate, destroy, cause to be destroyed, sell, offer for sale, transfer, molest or harass any marine sea turtle or its nests or eggs at any times.”
Finally, officials advise people to not pick up the turtle hatchlings and put them in the ocean. “They need to crawl on their own to set their navigational compass and increase their chance of survival.”