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Pinellas deputies, resort security guard team up to rescue baby sea turtles

Sea turtle hatchlings
Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 16:50:38-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — It’s a video making the rounds across the nation. Body camera video captured the moment two Pinellas County Sheriff deputies and a sergeant rescued and released dozens of baby loggerhead sea turtles.

Just before 5 AM Tuesday, a hotel security guard at the Sirata Beach Resort called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to report dozens of sea turtle hatchlings spread out across the resort.

Mary Reish, a volunteer with the organization Sea Turtle Trackers, also headed out to help.

“I was like I can be there in 10,15 minutes. I love it. It gets my adrenaline going. To find one turtle and save it, it just makes my day,” she explained.

Sergeant Mackesy, Deputy Lopez, and Deputy Wheeler, alongside the security guard and Reish, found the baby sea turtles in the resort’s pool, in the bushes, in the bathroom, and even in a storm drain.

Law enforcement helping sea turtle hatchlings
Law enforcement helps sea turtle hatchlings reach the sea

Only one in 1,000 loggerhead hatchlings make it to adulthood, according to Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

“We know every single one we get out there is one more chance that someone is going to make it to adulthood,” Reish explained.

Lights along the beach can make a huge difference in how many baby sea turtles make it into the ocean. Turtle hatchlings can easily become disorientated by nearby lights, which cause them to go towards hotels and condo buildings instead of the ocean.

The deputies were able to get in contact with FWC, who advised them to put the turtles into a bucket and release the turtles at the water’s edge, allowing them to venture into the Gulf of Mexico on their own.

“Go little buddy,” the deputy said as she released one of the turtles, “Go find your friends,” she added.

Sea turtle hatchlings head for the sea
Sea turtle hatchlings head for the Gulf of Mexico

Wildlife experts urged everyone to do their part by keeping the beach dark at night, keeping the beach clean, filling in holes, and reporting any turtles heading in the wrong direction. Experts also said not to touch the animals unless they’re heading directly into a street or other dangerous environment.

Reish is grateful for the observant hotel security guard, and deputies turned turtle trackers.

“I’m very, very thankful and thankful for anybody who notifies us when there is a nesting that hatches so that we can be there and help these guys,” she added.