South Carolina’s Garden City Police were called out to Garden City pier around 10:51pm due to a large group of people riding a green sea turtle while it was trying to lay eggs.
“These are threatened and endangered species,” Ann Wilson, a park ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park told WFXRTV. “Green sea turtles are protected under state and federal laws.”
Ann has been working for the Myrtle Beach State Park for more than 20 years and said that the turtle tried to lay eggs the night before but the same thing happened to her.
“The story I got from beachgoers is around 2:30, she was up and actively digging her chamber with her back flippers, and she got to be about this deep, and then I think there were too many people on the beach at 2:30 — I think they were taking pictures, getting too close — and they scared her off and she left. She false crawled twice in this park, which means she did not lay eggs,” Ann said.
After the first interruption of her trying to lay her eggs at Myrtle Beach, the same turtle tried to lay her eggs at Garden City and this is where she was met with the same circumstance. The group of people surrounded the turtle, flashed their camera lights on her as they took photos, and then allegedly sat on her before leaving.
“It’s frustrating and sad because it is not proper behavior for anybody,” Ann said. “People are so excited about sea turtles they forget that they are dealing with a wild animal who is terrified of them. People just want to get close, take a photo, have a story, and post it on social media, and that is where problems occur.”
According to the authorities, the turtle was not injured and later came back to the beach another night to lay 77 eggs. They also said a description of the suspects has been obtained and they will be searching for them.
The South Carolina state laws state that it is illegal to disturb or harass sea turtles and visitors can be charged with fines that accumulate into the thousands of dollars.