Patrols increased to protect sea turtle nests

As Carrie Duvall Davis and her husband unwind on Lido Beach in Sarasota, they know they're sharing the sand with sea turtles.

"It means the beach is still theirs and not ours. You still have to respect the space," Duvall Davis said.

The bright orange mesh surrounding wooden stakes on Lido Beach means hundreds of sea turtle eggs have been laid under the sand.  Some beachgoers may not understand that the creatures are protected and disturb the nests.

"It just breaks your heart because I don't think they know. I just think they don't know," said Duvall Davis.

Mote Marine Laboratory will be out on Lido Beach during the offshore boat races in Sarasota for the July 4th weekend.  They'll partner will Sarasota police to keep an eye on the turtle nests.

"We have done a lot to destroy their habitat and destroy their populations, so we have to do everything we can protect them, so they will be around for more generations to come," said Gretchen Lovewell, the stranding investigations program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory.

The new push comes at a time when police on Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach are trying to find a couple they say purposely ran over five turtle nests and killed two shore birds.

"The whole situation is just disheartening," Lovewell said.

Holmes Beach police have not had any luck finding the pair. Surveillance footage led to a dead end.

Mote Marine Laboratory is hoping education will help protect other nests.

"It is hard, but we are here to make the problem better," said Lovewell.

Mote wants beach goers to know they must respect the wildlife, both in the water and on land.

As for who damaged the turtle nests on Holmes Beach, that is still being investigated. A reward fund for information has reached more than $5,000.

If you have any information you're asked to call Holmes Beach Police at 941- 708-5804.

If you see any animals that have been harmed Mote Marine Laboratory asks you to call them at 941-988-0212.