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

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A 20-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of riding a sea turtle in Florida..

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.’ Stephanie Moore allegedly molested the endangered loggerhead turtle on a beach in July – and images which appear to show her involvement went viral on social media at the time. 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. Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act restricts the disturbance, molestation or harassment of sea turtles, which are a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.

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. The pictures allegedly were sent over Snapchat, and had a filter label that suggested they were taken at Melbourne Beach, which is known for its sea turtles. This specific 20-mile stretch of beach “is home to the most important sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States,” adds the Sea Turtle Conservation. 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.

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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