Vacationers leaving beach gear & holes on Dauphin Island causing problems for sea turtles

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:01 PM CDT
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DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WALA) - The surf, the sand and the sun are big draws to Dauphin Island this week. Lisa Myers and her husband are among dozens enjoying the beach.

“We came down on the West End because we heard that was the best place to come where you could do the least amount of walking to get down to the water,” she said. “So it’s a nice, beautiful day.”

On this hot day, many set up tents, umbrellas and chairs as they have fun in the sun. This summer though some vacationers are not cleaning up every night.

“We’re noticing more things left on the beach tents, beach towels, beach toys and lots and lots of holes,” said Stephanie Serra from Share the Beach – Dauphin Island.

All of that can be extremely dangerous for nesting sea turtles, hatchlings and even people.

Photos from Share the Beach show the tracks of a failed sea turtle nesting attempt from last week. A turtle came on shore, crawling over a blanket before returning to the Gulf without nesting.

“We often find that we have home renters or owners that come out when we’re doing something near their stuff and they will make statements this is my land I don’t have to get it in,” Serra said.

To try and get something done about the problem, Serra and Share the Beach are asking Dauphin Island to step in. They would like to see a similar ordinance to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach’s ‘Leave Only Footprints’ policy.

“Any time you pass ordinances that’s the easy part, the hard part is enforcement and hiring individuals and patrolling in vehicles and all the things that go with it,” said Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier. “So, we’ll have to fully vet it so if it’s something we do decide to pass an ordinance it is something we can properly enforce.”

Serra says not only are they seeing more beach gear being left, but more people are digging deep holes and are not filling them in which can put first responders on UTVs at risk.

For people like Myers, the solution is simple.

“Anything that you bring out here to the beach you should take that with you other than your footprints, leave those, and that’s all you should leave,” she said.

The Dauphin Island Town Council is expected to discuss the issue during their meeting next week.

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