SOUTH WALTON Fla. (WMBB) — County officials are warning beachgoers of booby-traps in the sand.
The South Walton Turtle Watch Group has come across very large holes recently during their early morning surveys. These holes are detrimental not only to sea turtles but also first responders.
“It’s amazing what people can do with a small plastic shovel,” said South Walton Turtle Watch Group’s Barb Van Stavern.
Imagine walking along the beach and falling into a large divot, that is what South Walton beaches have recently seen happening all along beaches. The sand is littered with these booby-traps, which are fatal for sea turtles.
“They only have one direction, they can dig forward once they fall in, but they can’t always get themselves out,” said Van Stavern.
Van Stavern understands why people do not realize that digging or building a sandcastle creates a danger. But it is important to remember to keep the beaches clean, dark, and flat.
“If you dig it, fill it, don’t dig it past your knees,” she said. “It’s just a safety issue for everyone.”
Currently, there is no ordinance within Walton County eliminating large divots. South Walton Fire District Beach Safety Lieutenant Brandon Brown said these traps are detrimental when it comes to emergency response times.
“I was trying to avoid a person that was sitting, came around and on the backside, there were probably three feet in diameter hole that was about three feet deep and I fell right into it,” said Brown.
Beach-goers were able to help brown but if a call were to come at night, that would not be the case. Putting the sand back when you are done digging is critical.
“We have entire sections of the academy dedicated to extricating patients from collapsed holes,” said Brown.
The best way to minimize every safety hazard on beaches is to make sure that you leave no trace. Brown and Van Stavern say education is key.