A Florida hotel was overrun with adorable baby sea turtles after an estimated 50 hatchlings got lost in the dark and headed towards the pool instead of the Gulf of Mexico.
It happened before dawn Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, and an overwhelmed security guard resorted to calling the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The beach is about 30 miles southwest of Tampa.
“Sea turtle hatchlings … had gotten very lost while making their maiden voyage out to the ocean,” the sheriff’s office reported in a Facebook post.
“The security guard had collected about 15 of the sea turtles before he called PCSO for reinforcements. Deputies found baby sea turtles all over the area including in the hotel’s pool, in the bushes, in the bathroom, and even in the storm drain.”
It’s not clear if hotel guests encountered the turtles in awkward places.
Sergeant Jessica Mackesy and deputies Jasmine Lopez and Zachary Wheeler played hide-and-seek with the turtles, collecting them in a big bucket.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Commission instructed the deputies “to release the turtles at the water’s edge and let them go towards the water on their own.”
The release happened around 5 am and the deputies pointed their flashlights at the water to keep the “little dudes” going in the right direction. However, at least two turtles tried going back to the hotel, the video shows.
Video of the release racked up 14,000 views and 130 comments in 17 hours, including some who said they “cried a little” at the sight of the turtles heading out to sea.
“Thanks to that security guard and officers!” Chandler Burke posted. “I imagine that was a funny phone call. “911!! I’ve got a bunch of baby sea turtles that are lost!”
The nonprofit Sea Turtle Tracker also praised the deputies and noted their “quick response saved a lot of little lives.”
“Thank you also to the Sea Turtle Trackers Volunteers who went out after sunrise to find more of them and help them get home,” Sea Turtle Trackers wrote on Facebook.
This story was originally published August 3, 2022 7:41 AM.