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Kentucky tourists discover taking baby turtles from beach is a big deal

Loggerhead turtle hatchlings hit the surf!

Palm Beach County is approaching the peak of the 2018 sea turtle nesting season! As of June 12 the current nest count is 138 leatherbacks, 3,674 loggerheads and 12 greens for a total of 3,824 nests!!
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Palm Beach County is approaching the peak of the 2018 sea turtle nesting season! As of June 12 the current nest count is 138 leatherbacks, 3,674 loggerheads and 12 greens for a total of 3,824 nests!!

A hotel housekeeper found six live loggerhead hatchlings in a water-filled waste bin in a Kentucky couple’s room while they were out for the day, according to police.

Michael House, 42, and Danielle Tosh, 23, who were staying in the Admiral’s Inn hotel room, were intoxicated when they picked up the six sea turtles from the beach around midnight, House later told Tybee Island, Georgia, police, according to the police report. House and Tosh were from Nelson County in Kentucky..

Tuesday’s discovery meant the two were scrutinized by police who coordinated with state fish and wildlife authorities along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in questioning the couple about violating the Endangered Species Act, the News reported.

The man claimed that other people on the beach were “attempting to grab the turtles” while the hatchlings crawled toward the ocean, the police report stated. So he and his girlfriend picked up the turtles instead, “placed them in a cup, and took them to the room for safety,” the report added.

The man also said he intended to take the turtles to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center at the end of the day, according to the police report.

The federal Endangered Species Act classifies Loggerheads as a threatened species — this means that people cannot even touch the animals without a permit.

People who violate these laws may be fined anywhere from $100 to $10,500.

Representatives from the Marine Science Center picked up the loggerhead turtles. They released five of them into the ocean, but kept one for the Marine Center.

The sixth hatchling will stay in the Marine Center for two years, said Brenda Marion, communications coordinator at the Marine Center. Although right now the turtle is being kept in the quarantined area, guests can still say hello to the baby sea turtle on behind-the-scenes tour, said Marion.

The hatchling will be transferred to the main gallery in about three weeks, Marion added.

Right now, the hatchling doesn’t have a name. Marion said the staff is trying to decide whether they should name it, or if they should ask the public for their input.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has opened up an investigation.

The investigation is still in early stages, and the DNR will “move on from there to see if any charges will be filed,” said Mark McKinnon, public affairs officer for Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

A representative from the hotel said she could not talk about the turtles while the incident is under investigation.

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