Turtle nest on Nokomis Beach damaged by suspected poachers

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NOKOMIS – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating a case of suspected poaching of a sea turtle nest on Nokomis Beach.

Suspected Sea Turtle Poachers were scared off the beach July 5th, when Mote Marine staff saw them at about 1:30 AM.

“Mote Staff were out on the beach at night to tag sea turtles for identification,” Rutger said. “And they noticed people that approached a nest, seemed to be digging into it and then ran away as our staff got closer.”

Mote Staff didn’t get a good look of the poachers, but they did find the nest damaged.

“There was a broken egg found on the surface of the nest,” Rutger said. “And it was a marked nest that had stakes around it, so it was the markings were there for protection because it is illegal to interfere with sea turtle nests.”

Mote Staff informed FWC and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office of the incident, and FWC is now leading the investigation.

“There are penalties for interfering with sea turtles, their nests or their eggs,” Rutger said. “Or the nest marking materials, they can be fines, or in some cases even jail time, so it is serious, because sea turtles are threatened or endangered species.”

Mote Spokesperson Hayley Rutger says intentional poaching of sea turtle nests is not common in their patrol area.

“More often it’s a case where someone is making an error they don’t know,” Rutger said. “Or maybe a kid affects a nest and doesn’t know, so it’s less likely for people to do it intentionally in our area.”

Rutger says if you see someone tampering with a nest, alert authorities.

“If you see anything suspicious on the beach,” Rutger said. “And you think someone might be interfering with a nest, you can actually call Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Wildlife Alert Hotline.”

The number for the alert hotline is 888-404-3922.

This is the second incident of damaged nests we’ve seen this season. Just last month, 8 sea turtle nests were driven over by what appeared to be ATV’s.