Last weekend, a woman was arrested and taken into custody for prodding and stomping on a protected sea turtle nest on Miami Beach in Florida. The woman, Yaqun Lu from Hudsonville, Michigan, was reported by bystanders, who saw her actions and alerted the police. The police also witnessed her stepping on and poking at the turtle nest.

sea turtle hatchling on the beach

The section of the beach where the nest was situated was blocked off by tape and “Do Not Disturb” signs, indicating that the area is a protected nesting site. Three species of turtles typically nest along Miami Beach: loggerhead turtles, green sea turtles and leatherback turtles. All three turtles are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. It is also illegal to interfere with sea turtles, their nests or their hatchlings, according to Florida state legislature.

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According to a Miami Beach website on the importance and vulnerability of turtle nesting sites, “It is important not to disturb [sea turtle] hatchlings, eggs or nests since hatchlings need to crawl to the sea unimpeded. Touching nesting females, taking flash pictures of nesting females or hatchlings or digging into nests is prohibited by law.”

Nesting season typically runs from April to October. Female turtles can lay up to 100 eggs per nest and approximately seven nests per season. Predators, marine debris and illegal fishing have contributed to the decline in sea turtle populations worldwide.

It has not yet been publicized why the woman was interfering with the nest; however, spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez of the Miami Beach police department said, “Thankfully, it appears the eggs were not damaged.”

Lu is being held on a $5,000 bond and is facing a felony charge of harassing a turtle nest. She will be represented by a public defender.

Via Huffington Post

Image via Mitch Lensink and TravelingOtter