Tourists have been warned to protect endangered sea turtles after a video emerged of beach-goers digging up a nest on a Florida beach.
Footage taken by WSVN reporter Andrew Dymburt shows a young boy digging next to a closed-off nest while onlookers, including lifeguards, stand around him.
Dymburt said there were clear sign marking ‘Do Not Touch’ but the tourists dug up a three-foot deep hole and put around 100 baby turtles in a bucket, according to the Miami Herald.
Chrissy Gibson, communications manager for the city of Boca Raton, confirmed the incident took place at a beach in Boca Raton and said the people who removed the turtles did it out of benevolent ignorance, thinking the turtles would die in the heat.
The group put the baby turtles in a bucket and filled with wet sand before lifeguards placed the buckets underneath a stand.
“It was not done maliciously. It’s important to remember, never interfere with sea turtle nesting activity or a sea turtle hatchout,” she added.
“If you are concerned about a sea turtle or hatchling, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and please remember – never touch a sea turtle.”
It has been confirmed that the nest was from a leatherback sea turtle and had 68 turtles.
Marine experts condemned the beach-goers’ behaviour as they pose additional danger to the endangered sea turtles.
Dr Justin Perrault, director of research for the Loggerhead Marinelife Centre, explained: “Sea turtle eggs if they are rotated at any time during development will die.
“If the infraction is bad enough it can be thousands of dollars worth of fines and jail time.”