BOCA RATON, Fla. (FOX 13) - Video of tourists digging up a sea turtle nest went viral after a reporter from WSVN in Miami posted video of it online.
The video shows people digging and standing around a taped-off nest on a Boca Raton beach on July 2nd. "You do not do this, ever!" Tweeted Andrew Dymburt along with the video. "The signage says 'do NOT TOUCH.' I watched as dozens of tourists - and a lifeguard who should know better - dug up the ENTIRE NEST.'"
It's sea turtle nesting season and the hatchlings are beginning to hatch and make their way to the water at beaches along the Florida coast.
They are a protected species, so it's illegal to touch the nests or the hatchlings in any way.
Anne Marie Van Casteren, spokeswoman for the city of Boca Raton, told FOX 13 that out of 68 turtles in the nest, 44 were rescued and released. "At this point, we do not have any further comment as the incident is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee (FWC)," she said.
A city spokesperson told WPTV that the turtles hatched in the middle of the day and people were worried they were dying and tried to help them. The spokesperson said they were leatherback turtle hatchlings.
FWC did not respond to whether or not those involved will face charges. Dymbert said he was trying to warn everyone not to touch the sea turtles and began taking video of the incident when no one listened.
If charged, violators are subject to state and federal penalties for disturbing sea turtles.
In response to the incident, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, which monitors the sea turtle nests along the beach, posted a video reminding people to never interfere with sea turtle nesting activity or hatchlings.
Anyone who is concerned about the welfare of a sea turtle nests or the hatchlings should call the FWC's sea turtle number: 1-888-404-3922.