Warning: Potentially disturbing video.
The sea animal was found dead in Florida’s Biscayne National Park, located in the Florida Keys.
“Biscayne National Park Marine Patrol Officers are investigating a poached sea turtle that was discovered with a spear shaft through its head,” the park said in an announcement on Facebook. “If you have any information about the poached sea turtle, please contact Biscayne National Park dispatch at 305-242-7740.”
Sea Turtle Found Dead with a Spear Through Its Head at a Florida National Park Prompting Manhunt https://t.co/sBd1VxydZv
— People (@people) June 28, 2019
Patrons of the park shared their dismay over the development in the comments section of the Facebook post.
“This truly speaks volumes of cruelty! Let’s hope and pray that whoever did this will be found, arrested, and punished to the fullest extent of the law!” said one user.
“That just breaks my heart, people are horrible,” said another.
“Just revolting…I hope they find the culprit and they are heavily fined and jailed!” another Facebook user commented.
Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (pdf) and under Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says that “the take, possession, disturbance, mutilation, destruction, selling, transference, molestation, and harassment of marine turtles, nests or eggs” is restricted by law.
According to CNN, the suspect could face $50,000 in fines and a year in prison.
Woman Stomps on Turtle Nest
Earlier this month, a Chinese woman was arrested in Florida for allegedly stomping on a turtle nest.
Officers and others saw Yaqun Lu, 41, take a wooden pole to the nesting area, and “jabbing at the sea turtle nest and stomping all over the nest with her bare feet,” police said, according to the Miami Herald.
Woman arrested for jabbing at sea turtle nest on Miami Beach and stomping on the eggs with her bare feet. https://t.co/fMuFIMIcX2
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) June 15, 2019
The nest was located in a closed-off area on the beach with a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
“Thankfully, it appears the eggs were not damaged,” Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told the paper.
Lu was transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where she’s being held on a $5,000 bond. She has an address in Michigan, but she is a Chinese national, Local10 reported.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says on its website that it “encourages the public to view sea turtles responsibly from a distance of 10 feet.”
It notes, “Civil penalties can exceed $50,000 and Criminal penalties can include fines of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.”
In 2015, the agency added, a Florida man received 30 days in jail for lifting a sea turtle out of the water.
Local10 reported at the time that Carlos Argenis Hernandez was arrested in July 2015 after photos emerged of him lifting the sea animal out of the water. He then put it on a coral rock.