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Do not interfere with sea turtles!

Sea turtle nesting season is underway. The Myrtle Beach Police Department has previously had several reports of people shining flashlights on sea turtles trying to come ashore at night to nest in the sand. Other reports say people on the beach have scared away nesting sea turtles. This is nesting season for sea turtles, which are protected by federal law! Do not disturb or threaten sea turtles.

If you see a sea turtle in the ocean or on the beach, stay away from it. Do not shine a light on it or otherwise disturb it. Respect sea turtles by viewing these protected animals responsibly. Do not harm, harass, pick up, ride, straddle, restrain, jump over, injure, kill or otherwise disturb sea turtles.

Feeding or touching turtles in any way, including shining a light on them, is considered a disturbance and is illegal. Federal penalties include jail time and fines up to $15,000 for each offense.

Sea Turtles are protected under Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. The animals are also protected under the Marine Turtle Protection Act. The act states that “no person may take, possess, disturb, mutilate, destroy, cause to be destroyed, sell, offer for sale, transfer, molest or harass any marine sea turtle or its nests or eggs at any times.”
Further, turtle hatchlings should not be picked up and placed in the ocean, as they need to crawl on their own to set their navigational compass and increase their chance of survival.