Maybe they wanted to put their feet up, watch a little cable TV, and freshen up with a quick shower. But it must have been an odd sight for the human guests at Sarasota Florida's Lido Beach Resort when they saw about 100 baby sea turtles crawling their way through the parking lot and towards the hotel's front doors. A few had even made it inside the lobby.
Sarasota officer Derek Conley noticed the hatchlings in the middle of the night last week while on patrol. He grabbed a cardboard box, and with the help of some of the hotel's guests and security staff, collected the slow-moving creatures from the parking lot and surrounding streets, stopping traffic a few times in the process.
Conley delivered the turtles back to the beach, and across the water line, effectively saving their little lives.
Sea turtles are federally protected—and it's against the law to touch them or disturb their nests. But as Officer Conley explained in his public statement, he knew they were in trouble and that he had to act quickly. When he later checked with a sea turtle specialist, it was confirmed that in this particular instance, Conley had done the right thing, and so he wouldn't be sanctioned for it.
Only about one in 1,000 sea turtles actually makes it to adulthood. Their lives are perilous, starting with the earliest stages, where simply moving from the sand into the water can be much more complicated than it appears.
Hatchlings crawl towards the brightest lights they see, which in a perfect world, should be the moon over the ocean. But human encroachment means that the first lights they often see are street lights or lights from nearby businesses, prompting them to crawl off the beach towards human civilization. They can find themselves stranded on busy roads, or in this case, bum-rushing a hotel.
The Lido Beach Resort reports on its Facebook page that its lights are kept low and red at night to prevent sea turtles from coming towards the building. But it suspects the hatchlings crawled in its direction because of the bright lights coming from a nearby condo complex.
Whatever the sea turtles' reasons for paying the resort a visit, thanks to Officer Conley, they're back in the water now, where they belong.