Sources say Gulf Shores police have a confession from a man who said he was with a group of four adults who tore apart a sea turtle nest Saturday night and stole several eggs.
Police began looking for the four after video surveillance showed them leave the beach and enter the Crystal Shores Condos East in the 900 block of West Beach Boulevard.
Mike Reynolds, director of Share the Beach, said one suspect confessed and showed officers where the eggs had been dumped in the trash.
The case will be turned over to federal prosecutors. The suspects face both jail time and up to $15,000 in fines for disturbing the nest. Six species of sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Reynolds said volunteers were monitoring the beach until about midnight Saturday after 99 hatchlings dug their way to the sand’s surface and scattered to the ocean earlier in the day.
Volunteers leave the well-marked nests intact for three days after a hatching event to allow any late blooming turtles to leave the nest on their own. When volunteers arrived again in the early morning hours to check on the loggerhead nest, they found that it had been ripped apart.
The suspects tore at the sand and dug deep into the nest of remaining eggs. In photos from the scene you can see egg shells strewn about the sand. Reynolds said by his count at least two unhatched eggs were also taken.
The joy of the hatchlings’ birth on Saturday turned to anger as Reynolds and volunteers struggled to understand the thieves’ motives.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m angry and upset and very disappointed that anybody would do such a thing to the turtle nest,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said most likely the sea turtles were not killed in the heist though he has not seen the recovered eggs yet.
“If they haven’t hatched at this point they are probably not going to hatch,” he said.