PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Two loggerhead nests were vandalized over the weekend, according to the Escambia County Sea Turtle Patrol.
“One nest enclosure was destroyed, while another nest shows signs of digging. Despite these disturbances, the eggs appear to be unharmed,” according to a news release about the incident from the county.
It was a busy weekend in Pensacola Beach for the holiday – and crowds are expected again this coming weekend for the air show.
“With the upcoming Pensacola Beach Blue Angels Air Show, Escambia County Marine Resources Division urges boaters and beachgoers to watch out for sea turtles, shorebirds and other coastal wildlife,” said Marine Resources Division Manager Captain Robert Turpin. “Beachgoers should respect sea turtle and shorebird nests and stay out of posted areas. Boaters should keep a sharp lookout for turtles and manatees resting on the surface and be aware of shallow seagrass areas.”
Turpin said Wednesday there are currently 10 sea turtle nests on Pensacola Beach and one on Perdido Key.
“(That) is a little off our usual numbers, and of course we had an early season storm and any nests that are covered by water we’re concerned about their survivability,” he said. “These storms are natural occurrences so we have to contend with Mother Nature.”
Turpin says because conservationists are already dealing the threat of tropical weather, it’s important beachgoers don’t make it harder on them.
“We can best protect sea turtles by having a natural beach for the females to nest upon and for the hatchlings to make it out of the nest and into the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “So removing obstructions; holes or sand castles or anything like that could obstruct the sea turtles and then the lights — keeping our lights off. It’s all important.”
If you see nests being tampered with, you can report the activity to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922.