Florida beachgoers pushing sick sea turtles into ocean before rescuers arrive

People trying to help sea turtles could be making things worse. 

The Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) is tracking a spike in stranded turtles on the Space Coast, but when rescuers arrive, the turtles are already gone because people are pushing them out to sea. 

"They are usually sitting there. They’re very lethargic. They aren’t crawling around. They aren’t trying to get back in the ocean," said Cyndi Stinson, a certified sea turtle rescuer with STPS. 

If a turtle is on the sand, it’s crying out for help and is usually on the brink of death.

"They wash up because they are sick with disease. They could be injured by a boat injury, fishing line entanglement, swallowing fishing hooks," she added. 

Over the past few weeks, rescuers have noticed a spike in stranded turtles. Young green sea turtles are coming on shore, but people are making things worse.

"Several times this happened. Yes, we saw the turtle. We put it back in the ocean," said Stinson, noting what beachgoers on the scene told her when she arrived to rescue the turtles. 

Stinson said when this happens, the turtles are in greater danger of being eaten or struck by a boat. 

"When we shove them back out there, they’re at much greater risk of something happening," she said. 

You should never touch a turtle on the shore. 

"You can’t do that," added sea turtle lover Marcia Hosper. 

Instead, call the sea turtle rescue hotline in Brevard County at 321-206-0646 and note your location. If the turtles are still on shore when rescuers arrive, they can get the help they need.

"That’s where they need to go when they’re in distress like that," concluded Hosper. 

We are in sea turtle nesting season now, so moms will come on shore to lay their eggs. Two things to remember: nesting turtles will move much faster than sick turtles and will be larger. They are a lot more lively than stranded turtles who need help.