Baby Sea Turtles Found Burned to Death on Florida Beach: 'Burned Babies Everywhere'

A Florida woman made a horrifying discovery while walking with her husband on Satellite Beach Sunday: several baby sea turtles that had seemingly been burned to death.

Rhonda Wundke said the baby turtles were blackened and that burned wood was strewn around the scene, FOX35 reported.

"I found one dead turtle, then we came upon the burned grave. Then there were just many more burned, dead turtles here and there... the charred wood was around them," she said. "Burned babies everywhere."

Shocked by what she had seen, Rhonda posted images of the dead turtles on Twitter, calling on authorities to take action.

"I want to report a crime. These baby turtles were found at High Tower Beach today 9/1/19. They have been set [on] fire," she wrote in a post. "Baby turtles and over there place burned even found an egg. I'm saddened and very angry!"

Other Twitters users were understandably horrified by the images. One commenter, SOF Digi-ves-tor, wrote: "Hideous, soulless !x?@. Am sorry you discovered. But, very appreciative you shared, and thoughtful enough to report to authorities. Hopefully, justice will be served."

Another user, Katrina Hunnewell, said: "Wow what is wrong with people and their minds, I just don't understand why anyone could do such a thing.. it saddens me that a human being even has such thoughts, but it's even more sad that they followed through with action so incredibly sad."

In her original post, Wundke tagged the Melbourne City Police and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) in the hopes they might begin an investigation into the incident.

After some individuals advised her to contact the FWCC directly, Wundke posted another tweet on Wednesday saying: "I'm happy for the outreach. As you can see I was texting out of shock. It was a nightmare in person to see. The storm surges [from Hurricane Dorian] I'm sure have placed these babies into the ocean to rest."

Of the seven species of sea turtle found around the world, five nest in Florida: the loggerheads, green turtles, leatherbacks, Kemp's Ridleys and Hawksbills. Of these, loggerhead turtles are most commonly seen in the state.

Sea turtles are among the oldest creatures on the planet, having remained relatively unchanged for around 110 million years. However, they face significant threats from encroachment of development on their nesting beaches, pollution, accidental catch by commercial fisheries and collisions with water vehicles, among other factors.

Speaking to Newsweek, Ari Fustukjian, Senior Staff Veterinarian at the Florida Aquarium, said: "Globally, the main threats facing sea turtle populations include the loss and disruption of nesting habitat, over-harvesting of adults—both commercial harvesting for food as well as incidental bycatch by other fisheries, and ingestion of and entanglement in plastic trash and other waste."

He added: "In Florida we see a slightly different spread of issues. Plastic and trash entanglement and nesting habitat loss affect turtles everywhere. Locally, we also see a large number of boat strikes—usually by recreational boaters—and every year we get rescue cases affected by red tide, a toxic algae bloom that's common in gulf waters during certain times of year. In U.S. waters there are a lot of state and federal protections that help regulate fishing practices, though we still do see some problems related to that as well."

So what kind of action can be taken to help protect sea turtles? Fustukjian says being a good steward of the environment is a good place to start.

"This can include reducing the use of single-use plastics, being mindful about recycling, and being generally aware that what we throw away can end up in the ocean," he said. "Sticking to sustainable seafood is a good way to ensure that you're supporting organizations that make an effort to engage in responsible fishing practices."

"And with the increase in sea turtle nesting that's been seen on the East coast this year, being sure to respect sea turtles and their nests, avoiding bright lights on the beach at night—which can cause disorientation for the turtles—and advocating for responsible coastal land use and development, are all critically important," he said.

This article was updated to include additional comments from Ari Fustukjian.

baby sea turtle
A baby sea turtle. YANICK FOLLY/AFP/Getty Images
Baby Sea Turtles Found Burned to Death on Florida Beach: 'Burned Babies Everywhere' | U.S.
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