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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.