A woman who had been boasting on Snapchat about riding sea turtles has been arrested on Saturday, in Melbourne, Florida.
Stephanie Moore and another unidentified suspect shared photographs on a popular social network back in early July, showing the accused brazenly “siting or riding” on the back of this protected species.
The felony had occurred at Melbourne Beach, in Brevard County. The stretch of shoreline between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso, along Florida’s east central coast, is considered the most important nesting habitat for sea turtles in the U.S., housing approximately 90% of their population.
The Snapchat image soon became viral on several other networking websites, which caused a surge of complaints to be filed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This prompted the commission to begin a criminal investigation of the pair shortly afterwards. In addition, officials called for the public to assist them in identifying the culprits.
As the Melbourne Police Department has reported, the suspect was apprehended by law enforcement officers when they were called in the 600 Block of Espanola Way for a domestic disturbance.
Policemen recognized Moore as one of the women shown squatting over sea turtles in the infamous Snapchat photos, and arrested her on an active felony warrant. The suspect was charged with possessing, selling or molesting a marine turtle or its eggs nest, a third degree felony.
The 20-year old woman was escorted by police to Brevard County Jail, and she is currently being held behind bars on a $2,000 bond. For the time being, there is no information pertaining to the other suspect’s possible apprehension.
Under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act, all sea turtles from U.S. waters are considered protected species. It is illegal to cause any harm, injury or harassment to these animals, or to capture or attempt to capture them, their eggs or their nests.
10 populations are considered endangered, and 6 populations are listed as threatened, after having been slaughtered for their shells, skin, meat and eggs. These reptiles are one of the oldest creatures on the planet, dating back to 110 million years ago.
The legislation that now helps protect and conserve them is meant to combat pollution, habitat encroachment, incidental capture, over-exploitation and poaching of this species. According to specialists, the marine animals come to the shore in order to lay eggs, and putting one’s whole weight on a turtle’s back can severely damage its hard shell.
Image Source: WFTV