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Holes dug on Jacksonville's beaches pose threat to sea turtle hatchlings

It’s peak sea turtle nesting season here in Florida but deep holes dug in the sand are posing a threat to the safety of sea turtles.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — It’s peak sea turtle nesting season here in Florida, a time of the year when dozens of nests are spread across Duval County Beaches. 

This season, deep holes dug in the sand are posing a threat to the safety of sea turtles and even pose a risk to beach goers.

The Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol say holes are increasingly common - even a part of a viral TikTok challenge. But if left unfilled, they become a hazard at night. 

“When you get a hole three or four foot deep with steep sides, the hatchlings get caught in it, and they can't make it to the ocean,” Volunteer Kevin Brown said. 

Brown says he stresses the saying, “Clean, dark, and flat.” 

A flat beach is needed for nesting mothers to get to the beach to lay their nest. If any turtle gets caught in one of the holes, it can cause them to flip or lead to injuries.

“Ten days ago, we found one in South Jacksonville Beach that was 13-feet long, 14-feet wide and four-and-a-half feet deep,” Brown said. "That took a monster effort by someone or a group, and they left it. We discovered it in the morning. Luckily, there was nothing in it. So you know we had it buried filled in and that's the best we can do."

Brown says there has been a trend circulating on social media where some beach goers are digging giant holes in the sand, but he says he cannot confirm if these holes are related to that trend. 

“When we do find a really deep one, usually there's a little ledge in there where they've made a couch, and they'd like to sit on it,” Brown said. "There's a lot of city work that goes on at night, you have patrolling officers, we have a beach cleanup service. These things could, in theory, be detrimental to not only man but animals."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discourages these deep holes but advises anyone who digs one to fill it before leaving the beach, as well as taking any furniture and trash with you. 

RELATED: TikTok's #holedigging trend has environmentalists concerned for sea turtles

RELATED: Sea turtle nest discovered in St. Johns County marks the start of nesting season - Here's what you can do to help keep the turtles safe

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