Florida Woman Arrested, Accused of Riding Sea Turtle

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Florida woman arrested after photo of her riding a sea turtle went viral.

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Police in Florida have arrested a woman who they say appeared to be riding a sea turtle in pictures she posted to social media.

Police recognised Stephanie Marie Moore, 20, from the images, first sent on Snapchat then widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter, while responding to a disturbance in Melbourne, Florida.The Melbourne Police Department wrote: ‘Multiple complaints were forwarded to the Wildlife Conservation Commission, who handled the criminal investigation.’

Moore has been wanted on a felony warrant since July for violating the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission rule prohibiting the “possession, disturbance, mutilation, destruction, selling, transference, molestation and harassment of marine turtles, nests or eggs.” According to Fox News, after Moore and a friend posted the photos to Facebook, several complaints were filed to the Commission who then opened up an investigation. He told USA Today: “I was hoping that some justice would be served because if they didn’t do anything at all that sends out that very wrong message to a lot of people. Molesting a marine turtle is a felony – a more serious crime – in Florida and, if guilty, Moore faces up to five years in prison and £6,500 in fines. Melbourne law enforcement then arrested Moore and booked her in Brevard County Jail where she is being held on a $2,000 bond. “It is important that sea turtles are never disturbed during nesting,” explains the Sea Turtle Conservation on their website, the world’s oldest sea turtle research group based in Florida. “A sea turtle is least likely to abandon nesting when she is laying her eggs, but some turtles will abort the process if they are harassed or feel they are in danger.” A successful reproductive process is important for these turtles, as they are a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act.

They identified her as one of the women in the photographs that had been shared widely on social media — ironic given Snapchat’s brand of “disappearing” photos. Her ultimate fate may resemble that of Taylor Martin and Seth Stephenson, both 22, who were fined and handed community service hours last year after facing federal charges for abusing manatees in a video posted to Facebook. Although many Floridians might agree that riding sea turtles hurts these endangered species, they often unknowingly participate in a number of less obvious, but more common, human interferences. The video shows him jumping off a boat dock onto two manatees, an adult and a calf, while Stephenson keeps them there with a water hose, the Tampa Tribune reported.

Beachfront lighting often deters sea turtles from coming ashore to nest, so the US Fish and Wildlife’s North Florida Ecological Services Office recommends closing blinds in oceanfront rooms, redirecting beachfront lighting and using natural vision on the beach instead of flashlights.

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