Vacationers leave beach gear and holes on Dauphin Island causing problems for sea turtles

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DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WALA) – Surf, sand and sun are big draws for Dauphin Island this week. Lisa Myers and her husband are among dozens enjoying the beach.

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

On this hot day, many set up tents, umbrellas and chairs for fun in the sun. This summer, some vacationers do not clean every night.

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

All of this can be extremely dangerous to nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, and even humans.

Photos from Share the Beach show the traces of a failed sea turtle nesting attempt from last week. A turtle came ashore, crawling on a blanket before returning to the gulf without nesting.

“We often find that we have tenants or homeowners who come out when we’re doing something near their business and they’ll make statements this is my land, I don’t have to get it,” Serra said. .

To try to solve the problem, Serra and Share the Beach ask Dauphin Island to intervene. They would like to see an order similar to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach’s “Leave Only Footprints” policy.

“Any time you pass ordinances that’s the easy part, the hardest part is enforcing and hiring individuals and patrolling vehicles and all that stuff,” said Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier. “So we will have to look at it completely, so if it is something that we decide to adopt an order, it is something that we can apply correctly.

Serra says not only are they seeing more beach gear, but more people are digging deep holes and not filling them, which can endanger first responders on UTVs.

For people like Myers, the solution is simple.

“Everything you bring here to the beach you have to take with you, except your footprints, leave them, and that’s all you have to leave,” she said.

Dauphin Island City Council is expected to discuss the matter at its meeting next week.

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