MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Disturbing photos that appear to show two different woman sitting on top of sea turtles at a Florida beach are causing outrage on social media and have prompted an investigation.
The photos made some people so angry, they posted the photos to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Facebook page asking for an investigation. The FWC says it is investigating.
One photo shows a woman with long hair who appears to be sitting on top of a sea turtle. The second photo shows a woman with short hair and tattoos who also appears to be sitting on a sea turtle. The woman is making a hand gesture and the photo also says “Melbourne Beach.”
FWC Officer Lenny Salberg said he is aware of one photo showing a woman with short hair. He told WFLA.com that they first learned about the photo on Thursday night. “We’re getting a lot of tips,” said Salberg, who added that people have been calling and emailing with photos and information. “It hasn’t stopped,” he said. “People love their turtles.”
Salberg told WFLA.com that FWC investigators have contacted one of the women in the photos and said the agency is also interviewing several other people. He said depending on the outcome of the investigation, if charges are filed, they could range from a misdemeanor to a felony. He also said that federal charges could also be a possibility because sea turtles are protected.
Salberg said the FWC has not received any reports of injured sea turtles in the Melbourne Beach area, which he said is where the photographs were taken.
He reminds people to be aware that it is sea turtle nesting season. “You need to stay clear of any turtles on the beach and stay clear of the hatchlings,” he said.