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Poached: Fighting for Sea Turtles

A Mike Scott thriller short story. Copyright 2020 © Eric Douglas.
By Eric Douglas | Updated On June 11, 2020
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Poached: Fighting for Sea Turtles

When international photojournalist Mike Scott stumbles across a man stealing sea turtle eggs for the illegal wildlife trade, he jumps into action to protect the endangered animals, unraveling a network of smugglers. This Mike Scott short story was released in four parts, with the fourth and final chapter released June 12. Already read the first three chapters? Jump to chapter four here.

Fighting for Sea Turtles Short Story

Poached: Fighting for Sea Turtles is a four-part short story.

Illustration by Ashlin Douglas

Chapter 1

The beach was dark and quiet. Just the sound of the waves rolling in to Mike Scott's right broke the stillness. It was cloudy and still, but the full moon showed itself through breaks in the cloud cover.

Mike sat quietly beside a dune, letting his eyes adjust. He was waiting on an elusive quarry.

An international news photographer, Mike had taken on assignments all over the world. Some were dangerous like trips to war zones. Others interesting, like underwater archeological searches for shipwrecks. A former underwater photo pro, he always looked for stories with an ocean connection.

This current story was one he had always wanted to tell, but had never gotten the chance. Until now.

Diving in destinations around the world, Mike saw plenty of sea turtles swimming gracefully, but he had never had the chance to watch one at its most ungainly. Tonight, he hoped to see a sea turtle lay its eggs.

Mike was out with a team of watchers who patrolled the beach to spot turtle nests. The volunteers wouldn't bother the turtles, but would mark the sites and put up sand fences once the turtle left to keep beachgoers from stepping on nests. They would also place a sign that indicated the turtle nest was protected. Disturbing it carried a hefty fine.

Out of the corner of his eye, Mike saw movement at the water line. Exactly what he was looking for. A big green sea turtle was crawling through the surf.

The turtle, obviously a female since males never leave the ocean, weighed about 300 pounds. Out of the water it used its large front flippers to drag itself up the beach.

Because of the low light, Mike used an infrared camera. He didn't want to distract the turtle with a flash or by setting up lights on the beach.

He was set up on the beach of Crandon Park, in Key Biscayne, separated from the city of Miami by the Rickenbacker Causeway. City officials and local residents had done a good job protecting the area from extraneous light pollution that could confuse the turtles.

Mike didn't move, but he started photographing the scene. He was impressed by the drive in the turtle to lay her eggs. She struggled with the sand, especially when she made it past the hard sand, up onto the beach above the high tide line. When her instincts told her she had reached the right spot, the turtle began digging, throwing sand in all directions as she made a hole deep enough to keep her eggs safe.

When all was ready, the mother positioned herself over the hole and began laying her eggs. Mike knew green sea turtles could lay 100 or more ping pong ball-sized eggs in a nest. He used his longest lens to capture the scene. The volunteers from the Sea Turtle Protection Squad had positioned him in a perfect spot.

In just a few minutes, the turtle was done. She began filling the hole back in with sand and then she slowly moved back down the beach and out into the water.

Mike sat back and marveled at what he had just witnessed.

"Why did I wait so long to do this?" he whispered to himself. He was about to pick up his phone and let the team know he had been successful so they could mark the nest when another movement caught his attention.

A man came over the dune and headed straight for the freshly laid eggs. Mike knew this was a bad sign. He repositioned his camera and zoomed back out to get a better view of what was about to happen.

The man looked around to make sure no one was on the beach and then followed the turtle tracks directly to the nest.

Risking the light, Mike pulled out his phone and tapped out a message. "911. Poacher. My location." He hoped one of the volunteers on the group text would alert the authorities.

Mike wasn't about to let the man dig up the nest, but there was only so much he could do. He took more photos of the man as the poacher pulled a shovel from his bucket and began uncovering the nest. Mike wanted to gather plenty of evidence.

When Mike saw the first eggs come out of the hole in the sand, he knew it was time to act. He grabbed his other camera from his bag and fitted the flash into place. Mike stood up and began walking toward the man.

The man was too involved in what he was doing to sense Mike's approach at first, allowing Mike to get close. And then Mike raised his camera to his eye and fired off several photos in rapid succession. The light from the high-powered flash disoriented the poacher. He dropped his shovel and covered his eyes.

"Ahhh. What the hell?" the man yelled.

"Freeze. Stop what you're doing!" Mike yelled back. "That's against the law!"

Off balance from the bright light, the poacher turned and tried to run away down the beach. Mike took off after him, dropping his camera.

After sitting still for so long, Mike was stiff, but he wasn't going to let the man get away. He reached the poacher in a few steps and tackled him to the sand.

The man struggled but Mike was bigger and angry. Mike shifted his leverage and rolled the man onto his stomach, pinning the poacher's arms behind his back.

"Get off me!" the man yelled again. The man started twisting and was reaching for his pocket. Mike was afraid the man was carrying a weapon, but there wasn't much he could do about that now. He just hoped someone got his message.

Mike glanced down at the man's waist to try to see if the man was carrying a gun. Mike hadn't hit the man yet, but he would if he had to. Sensing Mike release pressure for a moment, the man bucked and threw Mike off his back. The two men rolled away from each other and jumped up. The poacher was spitting sand.

"I don't know who you are, but you're in trouble now." The poacher pulled a folding knife from his pocket. "You messed with the wrong man tonight."

Mike looked at the man, trying to judge how this was going to go. It wasn't the first time he had been threatened on assignment, but every situation was different.

The poacher lunged at Mike with the knife. The sand made it difficult for either man to move quickly. Mike crouched, ready to react to the poacher’s next attempt. And then he stood up straight and relaxed.

"No buddy, you messed with the wrong turtle nest and you're still in trouble."

Two Fish and Wildlife officers came roaring up the beach on ATVs right behind the man with their guns drawn.

It was over.

Chapter 2

It was late in the evening when Mike Scott photographed the sea turtle laying her eggs on the beach. The arrest of the poacher on the beach just promised it was going to be even later before Mike got back to his hotel.

"Great job stopping that poacher, Mr. Scott," Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer Rachel Payne said. "Those guys are a real problem. We have patrols out, but they can't be everywhere."

"Thanks, and call me Mike."

"Of course, we would prefer it if you left the hands-on stuff to us. You can call me Rachel, by the way."

Mike was seated at a conference table and looked up at the young officer. He smiled. "Frankly, I'd prefer to leave it to you guys, too, but like you said, you can't be everywhere. "

"Roger that. Mr. Scott — I mean Mike — I did a little digging into your background while we were waiting. I see some of the stuff you've been involved with over the years. Honestly, I remember several of the stories you've broken. My lieutenant isn't thrilled to have a journalist involved with this, but I wonder if you would be interested in helping us out."

"What do you have in mind?"

"The guy we caught tonight is low level. There were probably two or three more out there just like him. I think we can get him to flip on his connection, he's got some prior arrests that are going to make his life difficult. We want to set up a sting to take down the whole ring."

"How can I help?" Mike asked. He was in, he just wasn't sure what the officer wanted.

"Like I said, this guy is low level, but these rings are international and trade in all sorts of things. They sell turtle eggs to exclusive restaurants locally for patrons who want to try something exotic, and they export them to Asia, along with trading in shells and turtle meat. These same rings trade in exporting land turtles too. Probably loads of other animals, so if we stop them, we can probably disrupt a number of different things."

"Again, how can I help?" Mike asked. He was generally aware of the illegal trade in protected animals but was surprised it was so prevalent here in his backyard.

"I want to ask you to hold off with any story you're going to report so we can get it set up. It shouldn't be more than a day or two."

"I'll agree to that on one condition. You let me help out."

"I don't know, Mike…"

"Listen, you said you checked me out. You know some of the things I've done and places I've been. I can go in and talk to these guys. See if I can get them to give you what you need. If you don't let me help you, you know I'm just going to continue investigating on my own."

And that's how Mike found himself walking into an exclusive Miami restaurant the next evening with an attractive police woman on his arm.

Sea turtle eggs might fetch a dollar or two each from the low level thief who dug them up on the beach. But in an exclusive restaurant with a well-heeled clientele that knows they are breaking the law but wants something exotic, the price can be $50 each. Or higher.

The real markets are in Asia and Latin America where the eggs are boiled in soup, cooked into omelets or slammed back raw as a shot with lemon, pepper and tomato juice. Add a little vodka and you have a Bloody Mary shooter.

The thief Mike caught on the beach told them he sold his eggs to a buyer who sold them to another guy. But he did tip them off to a place in South Beach that catered to an exclusive crowd, mostly Latin, that liked to throw money around.

An off-the-books item on the menu was turtle egg soup. You just had to know how to order it.

The problem for Mike and Rachel, aside from the obvious, was that some of the customers in the restaurant were likely highly placed members of drug cartels.Those men and women would not be happy if they found out there was a law enforcement officer in their midst. Or a journalist.

Even though Rachel wasn't interested in the drug trade, a sting in that restaurant was an issue for other law enforcement agencies. It could potentially mess up other ongoing investigations, too.

Mike and Rachel both knew they were walking across a tightrope rope over a swamp full of alligators. To make things more complicated, Rachel wore a wire under her black evening dress. It transmitted to their backup on the street.

"Hello my friends," the waiter began when they were seated. "My name is Carlos and I will be taking care of you this evening."

"Thank you, Carlos. A good friend of ours recommended we try your restaurant. You see we are interested in a truly unique dining experience. He told us to order your extra special soup dish. The one with sea turtle eggs, " Mike said.

The man stumbled. "I'm sorry, sir. We have many special entrees but I am not sure which soup you are referring to. Maybe I can interest you in something else."

"I understand Carlos. Our friend is Mr. Perez. He said you might not know, but said we should ask to speak to the maitre'd," Mike said. He never broke his smile. Perez could be anyone, but Mike knew there was a crime family by that name and it might get some attention.

The waiter disappeared quickly.

A few minutes later, an older distinguished gentleman arrived at the table.

"I understand one of our customers suggested you order a special meal that isn't on our menu. How can I help?"

Things were going exactly as planned. While there would ultimately be arrests at the restaurant, Mike and Rachel wanted the distributor that sold eggs to the restaurant and shipped them overseas as well.

"While my friend and I are hungry, I wanted to talk to you directly. You see, we represent a very famous chef. His name is Raul. I'm sure you've heard of him. His food is all the rage in the finest circles in Paris."

Rachel took over the conversation. She understood why Mike had taken the lead, but she wasn't about to be arm candy, either.

"Raul is my father and he has asked my bodyguard and I to do two things for him. He wants to host an extra special dinner here in Miami. And he wants to include special menu items that we understand you can provide. He specifically plans to use sea turtle eggs and green sea turtle meat on the menu. We will pay handsomely to use your restaurant and your kitchen for a night."

The maitre'd rocked back on his heels.

Neither Rachel or Mike was surprised when the man didn’t deny having the eggs.

"Maybe we should speak in private," he said.

Chapter 3

The maitre'd led Mike and Rachel to a back storeroom behind the restaurant. Before they knew what was happening, two more men appeared with guns drawn.

"What's going on here?" Mike shouted. "We wanted to talk about a deal for turtle eggs and meat!"

"Did you really expect me to trust you when you come into my restaurant dropping names of people I've never heard of and asking about illegal items? You are either cops. Or idiots. Which is it?"

Mike glanced at Rachel. She was calm and composed. Mike knew she had a safe word she could use and her fellow Fish and Wildlife officers would be there in moments. But there was nothing about her demeanor that suggested she was alarmed or ready to use it.

Having worked in multiple war zones, Mike had had guns pointed at him before and he had even been shot once by a madman in Grand Cayman. But it was definitely not something he sought out or enjoyed. He decided to follow Rachel's lead on this one.

Mike started to say something, but Rachel cut him off. She suddenly had a faint European accent.

"We are most definitely neither one. I understand you being cautious, but I must protest this treatment. You must forgive my body guard's demeanor. He is used to charging in and getting whatever he wants. Useful in some circumstances, but awful in others," Rachel began.

Mike was amused at Rachel's comments, but did his best to play along and glower menacingly. She was the law enforcement officer and had dealt with criminals much more than he had. She wasn't armed, but if they decided to search her and found her wire, things could go south very quickly. This was more dangerous for her in the short term.

"As I attempted to explain before, I am acting on behalf of my father and trying to make a business arrangement. If you are unwilling, or unable, to do that for me, then we will leave."

The maitre'd was caught off balance by Rachel's demeanor. And he didn't like the "unable" part of what she said. For this woman to imply that he couldn't handle an exclusive party was absurd.

"I've never heard of your Chef Raul," the maitre'd said. There was a sneer in his voice.

"That doesn't surprise me," Rachel said with a haughty sniff. "He only works with the most exclusive restaurants and guests." She turned to Mike.

"Come along, Mike. This establishment just won't do. There is that other restaurant I discussed with father. Maybe they will be able to handle our requests. You would think a place like this would want a quarter of a million dollars for one night, but there is no understanding some people. The dining room wasn't even full this evening."

Rachel turned and began walking back toward the door they had come through just a few minutes before. She simply ignored the men with the guns. Mike followed along without hesitation. He knew the game she was playing but it was a dangerous one.

"Wait!" the maitre’d barked before they had gone 10 feet. And then he softened. "Wait. I see I have misjudged you. But you have to understand that I have to protect my interests."

"I don't 'have to' do anything. Are you suggesting you are now willing to work with us? I'm still not sure I want to work with you."

"Please, miss, I was mistaken. I would be honored to work with you for this event. And I am looking forward to meeting Chef Raul. As to the special menu items you requested like the sea turtle eggs and meat, you will need to work out those details with the owner of this restaurant. She can get you anything you need and even source it locally so you know it is fresh."

That was who they really wanted to talk to. The person in charge of the poaching and smuggling ring herself.

"When can you arrange for that to happen?" Rachel asked. "I have other meetings and arrangements to make."

"Then it is a good thing I am here," a strange voice said from a dark corner of the storeroom.

The initial meeting between Mike, Rachel and the ring leader went quickly. The person in charge was a woman from Hong Kong named Atsuko Kaguya. She regularly traveled between there, Miami, and Paris, organizing her illegal trade.

Atsuko had heard of Chef Raul. Which made sense since he was a real, yet reclusive chef. No one outside of his immediate circle knew how to get in touch with him. It just so happened that Rachel did.

Contrary to the way they were using his name, the chef practiced sustainability. Rachel met him at a conference and they hit it off. He had agreed to let her use his name to break up the poaching ring.

What came next was much more serious. Mike and Rachel agreed to go with Atsuko to the warehouse to look over the supplies. It was risky to get in a vehicle with a criminal and lose control of the situation, but Mike and Rachel had to see the contraband and connect it to the smuggling ring. That was going to be the only way to roll up this organization.

Throughout the drive to a warehouse near the Port of Miami, Mike stayed quiet and allowed Rachel to talk to Atsuko. Mike was playing the role of bodyguard and Rachel knew a lot more about the illegal animal trade than he did anyway.

"Where do you source your turtle eggs and meat from?" Rachel asked.

"I won't give you details, but some of it comes from Florida beaches and other parts of it comes from the Bahamas. Most of what we have here is slated to go to Asia. There isn't as much of a market here in the US. But I will be happy to supply what you need for your special dinner," Atsuko said.

""Thank you. Will it hurt your supply for your buyers in Asia?"

"Not at all. I can easily make up the difference. And I can tell my buyers the price went up because of increased demand."

Mike marveled at how matter-of-fact the woman was about what she was doing. Most of the people he knew, especially divers who had the chance to swim with sea turtles, were fascinated by them. They loved to watch them swim through the water.

Everyone tried to get a good photograph of them, but the animals could turn on a dime and swim away. No matter how ungainly they looked on land, they were twice as graceful underwater.

But to Atsuko, sea turtles were simply a commodity. Something to be bought and sold. And for her, scarcity in the market was a good thing. He couldn't wait until this was all over. He was going to need a hot shower and a cold beer, and then he wanted to go diving. He felt like he needed to reassure himself that sea turtles were all right.

“We have arrived,” Atsuko said as they pulled into a parking lot. They were outside of a warehouse in the Port of Miami. It looked busy, with men preparing shipments and carrying to the docks nearby. But Mike could also see a number of heavily armed guards standing by as well.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Chapter 4

Mike looked out the window of the Cadillac SUV they were riding in and flashed back to a different trip he made to the port. That time, a Russian oligarch had been intent on poisoning the water supply for Miami and creating water refugees inside the United States.

When they arrived at the warehouse, Mike was surprised at just how open the business was. It looked as though they were packing fish for export. Except for the armed guards Mike saw everywhere.

Rachel asked the question. But not exactly a typical one.

"This looks like a fish packing business."

"It is. We export grouper, mackerel and mullet along with blue and stone crabs from local waters. That part of the business is all legitimate. It is also a great cover for our less-than-legal enterprises — the kind you are interested in. It keeps Fish and Wildlife off our backs. The same with Customs. Let me show you."

Mike knew the Port of Miami was one of the biggest shipping ports on the East Coast. After the legal fish shipments cleared for a while without any suspicion, he knew the Customs inspectors would relax their guard. They had too many other shipments to check and not enough inspectors to do it with.

Mike saw Rachel bristle, but she kept her cool. This whole conversation was being recorded. He hoped. He didn't know how far the micro transmitter Rachel wore would broadcast. He hoped their backup wasn't too far away and had been able to keep up as they moved to the new location. There obviously hadn’t been an opportunity to discuss it with Rachel’s boss before they left the restaurant.

Atsuko showed them the legal fish, as well as boxes of spiny lobster tails packed in ice. Markings on the boxes indicated the lobster tails were from Honduras. Mike knew they were likely caught by Moskito Indians who often suffered paralysis or death for their efforts. It wasn't illegal, but most US and European buyers refused to purchase them for ethical reasons.

They finally made it to where Atsuko kept the sea turtles. Mike saw shells that would be used for trinkets and jewelry, crates of ping pong ball-sized eggs, and packaged turtle meat. He grew angrier by the minute. Then he saw two sea turtles that were still alive, but bound up and ready for shipment.

“How many eggs do you need? And how much turtle meat? All of this is fresh, but if you are looking for something specific, we can provide it in two days. I have a network of suppliers who bring me what I need. You’re in luck, of course, this is the season for sea turtles to lay their eggs so it is easy to find them,” Atsuko said.

Mike was certain Rachel was about to give the signal to her team and have them raid the facility, but before she got a chance to do that, or to answer Atsuko’s question, they were all startled by a shout.

“What is SHE doing here! That woman is a cop!”

It took a half a second for the words to sink in and then everyone spun around to look. The man who shouted was making a delivery of freshly stolen sea turtle eggs. He was pointing directly at Rachel.

Rachel recognized the man, too. She had arrested him for taking lobster out of season. He’d had dozens of undersized spinys on board his boat. The man had lost his boat and paid serious fines. She was surprised by the man’s sudden appearance. Not that she was surprised he was involved, but she thought the man was still in jail.

While Rachel was processing what was happening, Mike simply reacted. This was about to get ugly. And fast.

Out of his peripheral vision, he saw two guards raise their automatic rifles. Mike grabbed Rachel and pulled her out of the line of fire. Just in time, too, as the air air was split by the roar of gunshots in their direction.

“Kill them and get me out of here!” Atsuko screamed. She ran toward her SUV.

Mike pulled Rachel down behind a pallet of boxes of turtle eggs. He hoped it would stop the bullets heading their direction. After the initial gunfire, the two armed guards paused and moved toward the back of the warehouse to get a better shot.

It had only been a split second since their cover was blown. Mike felt Rachel tense and she turned to look at him. She nodded to say thanks for grabbing her. She had been so shocked by being outed that she hadn’t reacted as quickly as she needed to.

“Any bright ideas?” Rachel asked.

“I assume the cavalry is on the way?”

“If they are with us, they are. There is always the chance they couldn’t follow us or gotten lost on the way here.”

“So, we might be on our own?”

“Not likely, but anything is possible,” Rachel said. She was scanning the room as best she could from their hiding spot behind the stack of crates. She could see Atsuko getting into her Cadillac. Two other people appeared to be running toward the vehicle with stacks of papers and cash. Rachel knew they needed to get those papers to make the case against Atsuko’s operation.

But first, they needed to survive. Neither one of them was dressed for a fight. Mike at least was in slacks and a sport coat. He took the jacket off and wrapped it around his arm as a shield in case he got in a fight. He wasn’t sure how likely that was considering everyone else was armed to the teeth.

Rachel on the other hand was in a tight-fitting evening dress, befitting her role as a rich caterer to the elite. It wasn’t practical for the situation they found themselves in now. She ditched her high-heeled shoes and hitched her dress up her legs to give herself more maneuverability. She preferred to go barefoot, anyway.

Mike handed Rachel a pike pole. It was five feet long with an ugly hook on the end. He had one, too. Mike was sure the poles were used to move the live turtles around and he shuddered at the thought of the poor docile animals being treated like that.

There wasn’t much to the plan. They knew the gunmen were heading their way. It was time to fight back if they could get close enough and try to stop Atsuko from fleeing.

“You best come out now. Maybe we won’t kill you after all,” one of the gunmen growled. “At least the pretty woman stands a chance.”

“For a while,” the other man said.

Mike and Rachel stayed still and controlled their breathing. They could hear the men coming and Mike knew one of the men was approaching his side of the stack of crates. He hesitated until he saw the man’s legs and then swung the pike pole with all of his strength. He felt the hook land solidly in his attacker’s thigh.

The gunman screamed. Mike jerked on the pole and pulled the gunman off his feet. Mike jumped on him and punched him in the face, while ripping his gun away.

Not expecting an attack, the remaining gunman spun toward Mike and his partner in surprise. That was Rachel’s cue. She attacked with a swing of her own pike pole. The second gunman saw her swing and ducked under the hook. The pole simply glanced off of his arm.

Rachel kept moving toward the gunman and threw a shoulder into the man’s midsection, knocking him off his feet. The man grabbed Rachel as he fell. He rolled and pinned Rachel to the ground. The man cocked his arm backward to deliver a knock-out blow.

Mike got there first. He grabbed the man’s arm before it started moving forward and jerked him backward.

“I’ve got him. Stop Atsuko!” Mike shouted.

Rachel rolled away from the second gunman and started running toward the SUV. The passenger door had just shut and they were starting to pull away.

Rachel saw the first gunman’s machine gun on the ground where Mike had knocked it away. She grabbed it as she ran across the concrete warehouse floor. She pulled the trigger. Her first shots went into the rear tire of the SUV. The blast took out the passenger side window.

“Stop the car! You’re under arrest. I’m from Florida Fish and Wildlife!”

The gunshot to the window caused the driver to hit the brakes and Rachel continued running toward the vehicle. She really wasn’t prepared for another fight with whoever was inside, but wasn’t about to back down, either.

Fortunately, she didn’t have to. Just as she reached the SUV, her backup arrived. There were four vehicles with heavily-armed Fish and Wildlife officers in each one. This was over.

Rachel relaxed for half a second and then she thought of Mike. She turned around, hoping he was all right.

And then she laughed. Mike had the second gunman on his stomach with his arms pulled backward using the pike pole. Mike had his knee in the gunman’s back. They were both a little bloody, but Mike had gotten the best of the assailant.

It wasn’t the first time Mike Scott had found himself in the middle of the action as a journalist. But it was the first time he had taken on a story about something as simple as sea turtle nesting that ended with a fight almost to the death.

Mike simply laughed to himself as he finished donning his dive gear. This was how a story like this should end, though.

Following the raid on the warehouse, veterinarians had determined the two live sea turtles were healthy. They had obviously been taken from the water in the last day or two. So, after checking them out, they were all getting together to release them back into the water.

Sadly, the turtle eggs they found in the warehouse were a total loss. Mike hoped Atsuko would pay dearly for that. He knew Rachel and her team, along with federal authorities, were quickly rolling up the international smuggling and poaching operation using the records they seized.

Mike would include all of that in the story, or stories, he planned to publish in the magazine he worked for, The World. He had already talked to his editor about a follow up story on the illegal animal trade in Asia. But for now, he had happier thoughts on his mind.

There was a splash over his head. He was hovering 15 feet underwater with his camera in a housing. He saw the first sea turtle from the warehouse slide into the water from a boat. And then the second.

Both animals looked a bit bewildered at first. Or maybe they were just getting their bearings. They both hovered quietly in the water, slowly turning, and then they took off. They swam in the same general direction for a few minutes, but Mike could tell they were already starting to veer off on their own courses. Sea turtles spend most of their lives on their own. Mike photographed it all from underwater.

The scene made him smile. The life of a sea turtle was hard enough. At least these two got a second shot.

That’s the conclusion of this story. If you missed any of the earlier installments you can read them here:

There are a number of steps you can take to protect sea turtles. Here are some tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.

  • Become a conscious and responsible seafood consumer.
  • Choose seafood caught in ways that do not harm or kill turtles.
  • Consult sustainable seafood information networks to learn about how and where your seafood is caught.
  • Contact your local sea turtle stranding network if you see a sick or injured sea turtle.
  • Support sea turtle conservation by getting involved. Support actions that help sea turtles.
  • Keep nesting beaches dark and safe for sea turtles. Turn off, shield, or redirect lights visible from the beach. Lights disorient hatchling sea turtles and discourage nesting females from coming onto the beach to lay their eggs.
  • Do not disturb nesting turtles, nests, or hatchlings. Attend organized sea turtle watches that know how to safely observe nesting sea turtles.
  • Remove recreational beach equipment like chairs, umbrellas, boats at night so sea turtles are not turned away.
  • Fill in holes and knock down sandcastles before you leave the beach. They can become obstacles for nesting turtles or emerging hatchlings.

For more information on protecting sea turtles in the ocean or at the beach, visit the NOAA website.

About the Author

Eric Douglas spent his childhood Sunday nights watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and dreamed of diving alongside the Captain. He became a diver, and then a dive instructor, meeting his goals and pursuing a life of adventure and travel.

His stories have everything thriller junkies crave; action, adventure and intrigue, set against a backdrop of beautiful locations, the ocean and the environment, and scuba diving. Eric also hopes to inspire future generations of explorers and adventurers like Cousteau did for him. There are eight novels and two novellas in the Mike Scott thriller series along with several short stories. Eric also wrote a children’s story about sea turtles for his daughters. Eric is also a frequent contributor to Scuba Diving magazine and Lessons for Life columnist.

For more information, visit his website at