Woman Arrested for Allegedly ‘Stomping All Over’ Nest of Sea Turtles on Florida Beach
Yaqun Lu, 41, is currently being held on a $5,000 bond, charged with marine turtle or egg harassment
A woman in Florida was arrested by Miami Beach Police after she was witnessed allegedly “stomping” on a sea turtle nest.
According to CNN, police say Yaqun Lu, 41, was spotted on Saturday “jabbing at the sea turtle nest” with a wooden stake and “stomping all over the nest with her bare feet.”
Lu, a Chinese citizen and current Hudsonville, Michigan, resident, faces a charge of marine turtle or egg molestation or harassment, per online court records. She was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and is being held on a $5,000 bond, according to Miami Herald.
Following Lu’s arrest, the area was closed off to the public with yellow tape and a sign that said, “Do not disturb sea turtle nest,” an arrest affidavit told CNN.
Authorities notified the Chinese consulate in Houston of Lu’s arrest. Her online records show no attorney listed for her.
“Thankfully, it appears the eggs were not damaged,” Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told the Herald.
The Miami Beach police did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973, it is illegal to harm or harass sea turtles, as well as their nests or hatchlings. The Florida statutes have laws governing the treatment of marine turtles, nests and eggs as well, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
As reported by the Miami Beach Rising Above website, sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 throughout October 31. The city of Miami Beach is a nesting habitat for three species of protected sea turtles; the Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback. Sea turtles lay around 100 eggs in a nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the summer nesting season.
Artificial lighting is also a threat to turtles during nesting season, as the hatchlings are instinctively attracted to bright lights. Under the Turtle Nesting Protection Ordinance, the city of Miami Beach has worked to minimize the impact of artificial lighting on hatchlings and nesting sea turtles.