Sea turtle watch group asks for community support after nest is disturbed

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SEAGROVE, Fla. (WMBB)– Tuesday evening, South Walton Sea Turtle Watch area coordinator Barb Van Stavern received a call from a concerned citizen who reported sea turtle hatchlings were disturbed by bright lights and individuals on the beach.

Some of those hatchlings became disoriented and ended up a third of a mile away from their nest, and some did not make the journey back.

Van Stavern said that in the process of the hatchlings becoming disoriented they become quick targets for predators and other outside forces.

“Cellphone lights have become so incredibly strong and very bright, they can easily disorient sea turtle hatchlings, and also the nesting females,” said Van Stavern.

She encouraged people who come in contact with hatchlings ensure the area is dark so they will not get distracted. If you are using lights on the beach at night, she said red flashlights are less offensive to turtles.

If you do see someone vandalizing a nest, you are encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office as sea turtles are protected by federal and state law.

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