Florida Woman Who Straddled Sea Turtle Last Summer Arrested

September 30, 2015

What were these Americans thinking? What pleasure is derived from riding an endangered sea turtle? Or even touching one? These women apparently did just that in July on Melbourne Beach in Florida and then posted a so-called selfie of themselves on Snapchat. The image was then screen captured by someone and posted to Facebook, where it was brought to the attention of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which opened an investigation. The suspects were called out on social media and warrants were issued for the arrest of the women in July. One woman, 20-year-old Stephanie Marie Moore was arrested September 27 by police responding to a domestic disturbance. Moore was taken into custody on the outstanding warrant, which was specifically for possessing, selling, or molesting marine turtles or egg nests.

"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," said David Hochberg, chairman of the board for the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Indialantic. "I was outraged and disgusted and infuriated when this first came out."

It was nesting season when the turtle was harassed. Eyewitnesses said that the second woman, who has not yet been apprehended, rode the turtle all the way to the beach. 

Professional surfer Jamie O'Brien was took to task for straddling a green sea turtle while the turtle was in the water. He had claimed that he was trying to raise awareness for the fibropapilloma virus, but Hawaiians weren't buying that story. The green sea turtle is revered in Hawaii and is considered an ancestral spirit by native Hawaiians.

If you have any information regarding this crime, please contact the police at 800-423-8477.

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