Pictures appear to show girls sitting on sea turtle at beach

Florida statutes prohibit molestation, harassment of protected animals


MELBOURNE, Fla. – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are looking into photos that appear to show girls sitting on a protected sea turtle.

One photo claims that the incident happened on Melbourne Beach.

The girls' names are being shared on social media -- and with investigators -- as people express outrage.  Local 6 is not naming the girls because they have not been charged with a crime.

"I think that's bad because just everybody loves turtles," said resident Jessica Weekley.

It could also be considered a crime. Florida statutes prohibit the molestation and harassment of the protected animals.

"It is bad because they are the treasure of Florida," said another resident after seeing the photos.

One of the girls told Local 6 that she was only hovering over the turtle and would've never actually sat on the animal. The woman in the photo with long hair is said to have ridden the turtle to the water.

"When people do this kind of stuff, it's just a sad thing to see," said Kim Starry, of Melbourne Beach.  "Their punishment should be more of a learning experience instead of strictly punishment. Then they'll appreciate it more."

Florida wildlife officials said they are looking into the complaints.

Another recent case involving endangered species led to the arrest of two men in Brevard County. The men were seen "canonballing" on manatees. They were sentenced to probation and community service.