A Chinese citizen was arrested Saturday for “jabbing” a sea turtle nest with a wooden stake and “stomping” on the protected habitat, according to the Miami Beach Police Department.
Miami Beach officers responded at about 8:15 a.m. to the beach by the 500 block of the city to a report of a woman disturbing a sea turtle nest.
The sea turtle nest was closed off with a double perimeter consisting of wooden stakes and yellow tape, as well as a “Do Not Disturb Sea Turtle Nest” sign.
According to an arrest report, 41-year-old Yaqun Lu was “seen by officers and bystanders with one of the wooden stakes in her hand jabbing at the sea turtle nest and stomping all over the nest with her bare feet.”
Lu – whose permanent address is listed as in Michigan – faces a felony charge of sale/molestation/harassment of marine turtles or eggs. The Republic of China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, has been notified of Lu’s arrest.
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Miami-Dade Sea Turtle Conservation Program responded after the incident.
“Thankfully, it appears the eggs were not damaged,” MBPD said in a statement.
Sea turtles, their nests and hatchlings are protected by the 1973 U.S. Endangered Species Act and a Florida Statute. Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 until Oct. 31.
“Sea turtles lay around 100 eggs in a nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the summer nesting season. It is important not to disturb hatchlings, eggs or nests since hatchlings need to crawl to the sea unimpeded,” the Miami Beach Rising Above community resilience government panel wrote on its website. “Touching nesting females, taking flash pictures of nesting females or hatchlings, or digging into nests is prohibited by law.”