Smoldering pile of trash left feet away from turtle nest

MICKLERS BEACH — A pile of smoldering trash was left just feet away from a turtle nest in Ponte Vedra’s Mickler’s Landing Beach.

The search is on for whoever is responsible, but volunteers say that unfortunately, it’s a sight that’s becoming too common in the past month.

During the entire duration of sea turtle nesting season, which is from mid-April to late October, you can find Lucas Meers out here at Mickler’s Landing Beach thirty minutes before sunrise. He patrols a 4.6-mile stretch from Sawgrass Beach Club to Guana River State Park, searching for any sign of sea turtle nests.

”Any time a sea turtle comes out of the water, we need to document that,” Meers explained.

On Sunday, Meers made a disturbing discovery. Just a few feet from a turtle’s nest, he found a pit of smoldering trash.

He made sure to snap the following photos, which he sent to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and also posted on Facebook.

He tells me Action News Jax if the eggs nearby had hatched, the baby turtles could’ve easily fallen in. “It’s very worrisome for us,” he said.

Not to mention, open fires on the beach of any kind are illegal in St. Johns County.

”I was pretty livid at the time,” he recalled. “Because we work very hard every morning.”

One of the species he tracks, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, is considered threatened in Florida. The other two, Leatherback Sea Turtles and Green Sea Turtles are considered endangered. But there is hope this year. Meers says they’ve come across a record 94 nests. ”We’re on track to have our second highest nesting season in history so that’s very good news for us!” he shared with enthusiasm.

But this also means these conservation efforts are more important than ever. ”More turtles mean more nests, and more opportunities for interactions,” he pointed out.

Surfers Jeff Fipps and Rodney Watson agree these turtles, and all wildlife, need our protection.

”People need to be more mindful,” Watson said.

”I think just staying away,” Fipps emphasized, especially when talking about the sea turtle nests. “We’re invading their area, so just trying to share it.”

Turtle patrol volunteers want to remind you that we need to keep our beaches clean, dark, and flat to help our sea turtles thrive. Clean means no trash. Dark means no lights on the beach at night. Flat means you need to make sure to fill in any holes you dig so turtles don’t fall in.

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