MELBOURNE, FL (WESH) – Social media photos of women who appeared to be riding on a sea turtle led to an arrest early Saturday.
Authorities with the Melbourne Police Department said Stephanie Moore, 20, of Melbourne, was arrested after a disturbance on Espanola Way about 5 a.m.
Investigators said police were called to the disturbance, and during the investigation, they learned of a felony warrant on charges of possessing, selling or molesting a marine turtle or eggs nest.
Police said Moore was one of two women shown in early July social media photos possibly riding a sea turtle in Brevard County.
The Facebook photos went viral, appearing on news sites and other web postings. On July 3, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued a news release seeking tips to identify the people in the photos.
The story provoked many angry responses from people concerned about the welfare of sea turtles, and officials used the incident to remind people that it’s illegal to interfere with sea turtle nesting.
The Marine Turtle Protection Act makes it a third-degree felony to injure, harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture any marine turtles, eggs or nests.
The FWC recommends that people interested in watching a turtle nest on the beach attend a permitted public sea turtle watch. Watches are usually held during June and July, and reservations must be made in advance.
For a list of organizations permitted to conduct watches, visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.
Anyone who sees someone disturbing a nest or turtle should call the FWC Division of Law Enforcement at 888-404-FWCC or *FWC from cellphones.
Moore was booked into the Brevard County Jail on $2,000 bond. FWC agents interviewed both women shown in the photos. Records indicated the second woman has not yet been arrested.