Holmes beach is known for its beautiful water, white sand and sea turtle nests.

Ana Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring is out every morning making sure the nests are safe.

  • Sea turtle nests being circled by visitors, which causes problems
  • About two dozen nets compromised so far this season
  • Hefty fine awaits those who mess with nests

"Nesting numbers are about 40 to 50 higher than we had last year, so we're somewhere around 230-240 nests," said Director Suzi Fox.

In the last week, these volunteers have come across some dangerous sites.

People have been circling unmarked nests with seaweed and drawing heart shapes in the sand where the eggs lie. The actions are with good intentions but are causing major problems.

"What happens there when they do that is they go over the nesting criteria that we need to look over to decide what species actually made the nest," said Fox.

That takes away crucial data and potentially some sea turtles lives.

"If one egg is compromised and the yolk comes out and gets on the other eggs, every egg is void," Fox said.

Messing with one of the nests comes with a hefty fine, said Holmes Beach Chief of Police William Tokajer.

"It's a federal law, a state law, and a it's also a city ordinance," Tokajer said. "You could be fined from $25,000 up to $100,000 (and) up to a year in prison for molesting a turtle nest," Tokajer said.

Fox believes almost two dozen nests have been compromised this season, but they won't know to what extent until the eggs start hatching.