This case of malicious mischief took place sometime Thursday night (August 8th). I delayed posting this because I didn’t trust myself to be objective and to not sound too angry. So here goes…..
Greg was patrolling Friday morning and, as we always do, checked on the nests that were on his section of beach. What he saw can only be described as, “What were they thinking!?” From the photos you can see that someone had collected jellyfish from the shoreline surf and apparently decided a protected, marked and posted sea turtle nest made a good dumping ground.
I can understand the curiosity that many of our visitors have about the unusual sea life that the Gulf of Mexico harbors. Most of our summer guests don’t come from places with saltwater. Parents often use the opportunity to show their children new and exciting things as evidenced by the many flashlight and bucket toting families roaming the beach in search of ghost crabs after dusk. If there are starfish or jellyfish washed up on the shoreline you can bet someone is closely investigating and often collecting them (I can’t count the small buckets full of those creatures that I see people carrying each summer).
Whose idea was it to dump their “catch of the day” inside a clearly marked sea turtle nest barrier instead of digging a hole and burying them? [I’ll defer talking about holes that visitors fail to fill in for another post] Was this a case of some drunk and uncaring adult? Is impaired judgement their excuse? Was this a case of some mischievous teenagers? Peer pressure does strange things to kids. Maybe they weren’t taught respect. Or was it a parent? I wonder what message that parent taught their child when doing this? I wonder what lesson their child learned about respect? I wonder what people think the beach can be used for – a dump?
Since today is Sunday, I would bet the mischief makers have left our beaches and I doubt they would read this anyway based on their actions. Over the past three years we have seen an increase in vandalism and mischief surrounding sea turtle nests along the Alabama coast. Maybe we need more education about what is “proper behavior” on the beach. Maybe some people just can’t be reached. After all I had to ask, “What were they thinking?”