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Deputies, turtle volunteers rescue dozens of lost sea turtle hatchlings

A local sea turtle tracker volunteer says some of the hatchlings were even found inside hotel bathrooms.

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Dozens of sea turtle hatchlings were found wandering around the lobby of a hotel on St. Pete Beach. Several hatchlings were also found in the parking lot and even inside a drain. 

Pinellas County deputies say they got a call from the hotel security guard who didn't know what to do. Multiple deputies came out to the hotel and collected several hatchlings. They contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to get some guidelines from their officers. 

FWC officials instructed one of the deputies to release the turtles at the water's edge and let them go towards the water on their own.

Mary Reish with Sea Turtle Trackers says she arrived a little later in the morning to continue searching for the lost hatchlings. She says there were even some hatchlings stuck inside the bathroom. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

“If you looked at the front of the nest, not one turtle went to the ocean," Reish explained. She says instead of making their way to the water, the hatchlings went toward the hotel because of the bright lights.

Reish says instead of using bright light during sea turtle nesting season, businesses and condos near the beach should be using safer options like yellow bug lights or amber-colored LED lights.

If you come across a hatchling that is wandering in a road, parking lot, or heading in a direction other than the water you can call FWC's Division of Law Enforcement line at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone. If you are located near St. Pete beach you can call Sea Turtle Trackers directly at 727-501-5581.

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