Housekeepers at the Admiral’s Inn in Tybee Island, Georgia found six loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings in a water-filled trash can on Tuesday, police said.
All six hatchling were alive, a police report from the Tybee Island Police Department said, according to The Island Packet.
The couple staying in the room — a man and woman from Kentucky, according to the Savannah Morning News — were allegedly intoxicated when they picked up the hatchlings the night before, The Island Packet reported.
The man, who has not yet been named, reportedly told police other late-night beachgoers attempted to pick up the hatchlings as they crawled toward the ocean. In response, he and the woman, who also hasn't been identified, “placed them in a cup, and took them to the room for safety."
The man added the two planned to take the young turtles to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center the following day, according to a police report obtained by The Island Packet.
Officials with the Tybee Island Police Department and the state’s Department of Natural Resources are still investigating the incident.
All but one of the baby turtles have been released into the ocean. The other is now with the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, where it will stay for roughly two years.
“We want to do it as quickly as possible so they have their hormonal boost to get them out to the Sargasso Sea and it’s not wasted swimming in our tank,” Chantal Audran, curator of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, told the Savannah Morning News before the five hatchlings were released.
Loggerhead sea turtles are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and are federally protected, according to The National Wildlife Federation.
Additionally, people are prohibited from touching loggerheads without a permit, according to The Island Packet, which added violators can face fines anywhere from $100 to $10,500.