Sea turtle nest measuring

An Emerald Isle turtle team volunteer measures a new sea turtle nest on the beach last week. (Contributed photo)

EMERALD ISLE – Emerald Isle Police are investigating several incidents of tampering with sea turtle nests.

“The Emerald Isle Police Department has responded to, and is currently investigating, a series of incidents since July 2 where several sea turtle nests were vandalized along the town’s beach strand,” Chief Mike Panzarella said Wednesday. “It is something we take very seriously, because depending on the magnitude of damage, it could constitute a violation of federal laws.”

Earlier this week, Dale Baquer, head of the town’s volunteer Sea Turtle Patrol Team, said one nest was tampered with the night of July 1, and that the same nest and another were targeted the next night. She said then the police had been notified and she had filed a report.

Another incident occurred Tuesday night, but Chief Panzarella said he could not release any details because all of the incidents are under investigation.

The turtle team walks the beach daily, looking for and marking nests of the threatened and endangered turtles, which are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Ms. Baquer asked people to educate themselves and their children and noted that tampering with the nests can be punishable by a $50,000 fine.

The sea turtle patrol does not give out the locations of turtle nests, but they are visible because they are marked.

As of Wednesday the team had found 18 sea turtle nests on the town’s strand. That’s already three more than were found during the 2020 nesting season.

Nesting season in North Carolina generally lasts from mid-May through August.

Once the nests begin to hatch, Emerald Isle’s turtle team volunteers protect them and dig shallow trenches to help the hatchlings make their way to the ocean. Nests usually hatch in September, October and November.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

(1) comment

David Collins

The E I Police dept. must have plenty of time on it’s hands these days . Now they are turtle cops . Careful , the Feds. Don’t take kindly to meddling in their back yard .

Speaking of meddling , these turtle troopers are meddling when they dig these shallow trenches to the waters edge . They are denying the ghost crabs and predatory birds the ability to feast on these tender treats , as they have done for probably a million years or more . Buttttt , that leaves more for he local shark population to enjoy . Gotta love the do gooders of the world . More turtles for the boaters to hit .

Welcome to the discussion.

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