If you see an adult turtle on the beach, it is there for only one of two reasons—it’s either injured, or it’s a female sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs. (Once male sea turtles hatch from their eggs and crawl to the ocean, they generally never return to shore. They spend their entire lives at sea.) Interacting with a female sea turtle while she’s attempting to bury her eggs in the sand can do tremendous harm. Taking photos, using a flashlight or even just crowding her can trigger what scientists call a “false crawl,” which basically means she gets spooked and returns to the water without burying her eggs.
She may return to the beach later to give it another go, but sometimes she releases her eggs into the ocean. This is a devastating turn of events. Sea turtle eggs can only hatch if they’re buried in sand, because turtle embryos cannot survive if they’re constantly underwater.
We should probably also mention that these gorgeous animals are also living beings and therefore deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. So what should you do if you spot a sea turtle on the beach attempting to bury her eggs? Stand back, let her do her thing and consider yourself lucky to witness the miracle of nature.