FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) — Three men are facing punishment after posting a Snapchat video of them digging up a loggerhead sea turtle nest during a summer visit to Folly Beach, South Carolina.
Sea turtle nests in the area are typically clearly marked with orange tape to protect the eggs, which are extremely fragile. Nearly all species of sea turtles are considered endangered as of 2020, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say Loggerheads are threatened in both the north and south population segments along the Atlantic Ocean.
Protecting sea turtle nests is a critical part of the conservation program, as female sea turtles do not lay eggs every year. Additionally, many of the hatchlings may be lost along the journey from the nest to the ocean.
According to SCDNR, the men in the video were all under the age of 21 and were vacationing in the area with their family. The video showed two of the men digging up eggs from the nest and smashing one egg on the ground before trying to rebury the eggs.
The disturbance caused significant damage to the eggs. The SCDNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program determined that “out of 90 eggs remaining in the nest, 71 did not hatch.”
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday announced that the two men who dug up the eggs were each issued two summonses for unlawful taking of loggerhead turtle eggs, while the man who filmed them was issued one summons.
The men could face jail time or fines of up to $2,000 as well as restitution. SCDNR is also recommending that the men be required to do community service with the agency’s Marine Turtle Conservation program.