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Naples resident shares disturbing photo after Memorial Day weekend beach visit: 'People constantly need to be policed'

"Stop littering."

"Stop littering."

Photo Credit: iStock

A photo of a scenic Florida beach strewn with beer cans, plastic water bottles, and other garbage angered and saddened viewers online. 

"Naples, Fl. Major lagerhead [sic] sea turtle nesting site," read the caption from last year's Memorial Day in the aptly named subreddit r/Trashy. "Memorial Day tourists left their trash all over our beaches for the turtles to crawl through."

"I think you misspelled terrorist," one person wrote angrily.

"Stop littering."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Other commenters were similarly incensed and frustrated. "Regardless of sea turtles... this is still trashy as hell. Stop littering," one commented. "Deplorable behavior," another echoed.

There's a nickname that's emerged for tourists like the ones littering this beach: Tourons, the name a mix of "tourist" and "moron." Unfortunately, tourons have been documented everywhere from Florida to Yellowstone, harming the very areas they're visiting through their own reckless behavior and exploitative attitudes toward nature, often leaving trash behind from parties without cleaning up.

When people leave garbage in places like this Naples beach, it's not just reckless and gross. It's life-threatening for the animals that live there. 

In their vulnerable journey from the nest to the water, sea turtle hatchlings often get trapped in debris — stuck in a plastic cup, tangled in a plastic bag — and they die before they can even make it to the ocean. But even if they manage to grow to adulthood, they'll face danger from leftover fishing lines and plastic debris, which kill over 100,000 animals every year, according to Clean Virginia Waterways.

Another issue arises when animals mistake garbage for food. Plastic has been found in the stomachs of everything from baby sea turtles to full-grown elephants

"When you fill an animal's stomach they don't feel hungry, and they don't go eat," said Shannon Gowans, a biology professor at Eckerd College in Florida, per the Tampa Bay Times. "They think they're full even though they're starving to death."

Many groups in Florida and beyond are working to clean up beaches to make them safe for nesting turtles, seals, and other wildlife — but they're often facing an uphill battle.

"Sad, people constantly need to be policed," one person wrote.

Another summed it up: "People are garbage sometimes."

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