Sea turtle nest in Orange Beach damaged - shovel found nearby

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 9:18 PM CDT
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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) - July is right in the middle of sea turtle nesting season along Alabama’s beaches. A nest, volunteers with Share the Beach have been watching was found vandalized with a shovel laying in the sand nearby. Now, Orange Beach Police are trying to find out who did it.

Share the Beach is an organization more than 400 members strong which patrols Alabama’s beaches to search for and protect sea turtle nests. So far, 59 have been found in 2022. The damaged nest site found Tuesday morning, July 19, 2022 was one of them. A large hole had been dug into the sand, revealing the protective screen (used to deter predators) and coming dangerously close to the egg chamber.

“It looks like somebody came from the side of that screen and dug at an angle, down toward the center, just aiming at the clutch trying to get in there for whatever reason,” said Share the Beach director, Sara Johnson.

Whoever damaged the sea turtle nest ignored warning signs and tape to access the nest site
Whoever damaged the sea turtle nest ignored warning signs and tape to access the nest site(Hal Scheurich)

Fortunately, the egg chamber was untouched and it’s hopeful they will soon hatch. It’s believed to be a Loggerhead turtle nest which are common along Baldwin County beaches. Females can lay between 80 and 120 eggs. With all the education and efforts to protect the nests, Johnson said it’s discouraging when something like this happens.

“Just respect nature and let it be. You know? We all are very curious about things so whether this was curiosity or someone trying to be funny or truly malicious intent, there’s no reason to disturb it,” Johnson said. “You know, let nature kind of exist from a distance and do its own thing would be my biggest message.”

Johnson says it happened sometime between midnight Monday and 5:00 a.m. Tuesday. One of their volunteers found the nest while making rounds. Fox 10 News has been asked to keep the exact location of the nest secret to avoid extra attention.

The Chaffin family has been vacationing there all week and have been watching the nest. They and others on that stretch of beach are disappointed that someone would do this.

“It was definitely somebody doing something they knew they wasn’t supposed to be doing,” said Andy Chaffin. “Now, luckily…hopefully, they didn’t get down to the eggs.”

“It’s a bit outrageous,” added Matthew Brady. “There’s like orange tape everywhere. It’s pretty obvious. Like, don’t really mess with the sea turtles. Like, what did they do to you?”

Loggerhead turtles and their nests are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. What was done to this nest can be prosecuted under federal law and could bring up to $100,000 fine and jail time. If you know anything about the incident, call Orange Beach Police.


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