Witnesses called law enforcement after they witnessed a woman damaging a sea turtle nest. The area was clearly roped off with yellow tape and had a sign that read “Do Not Disturb Sea Turtle Nest.” The woman was reportedly seen poking the turtle shells with a wooden stick while stepping on other eggs with her bare feet.
Miami Beach officers responded to the call at 8:15 am where they arrested 41-year-old Yaqun Lu Saturday morning. According to NBC Miami, Lu was “seen by officers and bystanders with one of the wooden stakes in her hand jabbing at the sea turtle nest and stomping all over the nest with her bare feet.”
Lu is a Chinese citizen who gave an address in Michigan as her permanent residence. She faces felony charges of sale/molestation/harassment of marine turtles or eggs, which could result in a light jail sentence or heavy fine.
The Republic of China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, was notified of the arrest of Lu as is customary. After her arrest, the Miami Police Department announced in a statement: “Thankfully, it appears the eggs were not damaged.”
Lu is being represented by a public defender, according to court records. According to the New York Post, Lu was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center where she is being held on $5,000 bond.
Sea turtles are federally protected by the US Endangered Species Act of 1973. Sea turtle nesting runs from May 1 through October 31. Florida is home to quite a bit of indigenous wildlife, and the state’s law prohibits anyone from harming an animal’s offspring/nest.
The Miami Beach Rising Above, which is an advocacy community for sea turtles, states on their website: “Sea turtles lay around 100 eggs in a nest and lay between 3 and 7 nests during the summer nesting season. It is important not to disturb hatchlings, eggs or nests since hatchlings need to crawl to the sea unimpeded.”
Their site adds: “Touching nesting females, taking flash pictures of nesting females or hatchlings, or digging into nests is prohibited by law.”