Police officers and eye witnesses saw Yaqun Lu “jabbing at the sea turtle nest and stomping all over the nest with her bare feet,” the Miami Herald reported.
Ms Lu, who lives in Michigan, was discovered inside a fenced-off area that was cordoned off to protect hatchlings. Yellow tape, sticks and a “Do Not Disturb” sign warned the public to stay away from the site.
She is facing felony charges for violating Florida law and the US Endangered Species Act of 1973, which makes it a crime to harm or harass sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings.
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission inspected the nest and determined the eggs were not harmed by Lu, according to WPLG.
Each spring, 70 per cent of turtle nesting in the US – including Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback marine turtles – takes place in Florida.
During the nesting season, which occurs between March and October, thousands of female turtles lay eggs in self-dug holes, then they cover the eggs with sand to shield them from predators.
Nearly two months later, the hatchlings scurry to the sea, guided by moonlight and its reflection. Only one in 1,000 baby turtles survives into adulthood, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Ms Lu, a Chinese citizen, was charged with molesting or harassing marine turtles or their eggs. She could face up to five years in prison if convicted of third-degree felony. Since Saturday, she has been held on $5,000 bail.