Posted by: The ocean update | May 24, 2017

Two men arrested after investigators say they were found with about 500 sea turtle eggs (Florida, USA)

Two arrests were made in what investigators say are thefts of sea turtle eggs. Photo Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission

May 24th, 2017 (Will Greenlee). LUCIE COUNTY — Two Riviera Beach men were arrested Wednesday after state investigators reported finding them with about 500 sea turtle eggs, a state spokeswoman said.

Raymond Saunders and Carl Cobb, both 50, were arrested on felony charges of possession of more than 11 marine turtle species/eggs (Ed Sibylline : there are 7 marine turtle species) and illegal taking or disturbing of a marine species turtle nest, said Carol Lyn Parrish, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission public information coordinator.

“Those subjects were observed taking sea turtle eggs out of a sea turtle nest,” Parrish said.

She said FWC officials Wednesday morning noticed the men on the beach just north of Blind Creek Beach.

She said over the past several weeks, her agency got information from biologists and people who monitor the nests of “possible illegal activity occurring around the sea turtle nests.”

“We rely heavily on those folks not only to provide us data, but to give us any signs and any information on signs that they may see where nests have been disturbed or they look like they’ve possibly been poached,” Parrish said.

Parrish said there is a market for the eggs, noting in some cultures they are considered aphrodisiacs.

The eggs recovered Wednesday are thought to be loggerhead turtle eggs.

Loggerheads are the most commonly encountered nesting sea turtles on the Treasure Coast. Nesting season is March through October.

In 2016, loggerheads laid a record 27,413 nests on the Treasure Coast and 122,706 statewide, also a record, according to the FWC.

Only leatherbacks are considered “endangered” by the federal Endangered Species Act. Loggerheads and green turtles are listed as “threatened.” (Ed Sibylline : in other words, today, all sea turtles found in U.S. waters are federally listed as endangered, except for the loggerhead which is listed as threatened (Threats to Sea Turtles, source)).

Whether endangered or threatened, sea turtles are protected by federal and state laws that forbid taking, possessing, disturbing, mutilating, destroying, selling and harassing all types of sea turtles, their nests and their eggs.

Parrish said anyone who sees activity similar to what Saunders and Cobb are accused of or sees sick or injured sea turtles can call a wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-3922.

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