September 18, 2015
enforcement officials from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were still following up
today on the bizarre case of a man who shot a sea turtle with a
spear-gun on Wednesday.
UPDATED: Officials still seeking turtle
injured by man with spear-gun
By IRENE NOLAN
Hatteras Island District Ranger Joe Darling said the incident happened
about mid-afternoon in the ocean at the Frisco Pier and was reported to
Park Service law enforcement by visitors who witnessed the event.
Darling said the witnesses reported that a man was shooting at a turtle
in the ocean under the old Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier in Frisco.
The witnesses got photos of the suspect and the license plate of the
car in which he left the area.
A Park Service law enforcement ranger located the suspect, Darling
said. The male visitor to the seashore and a companion told the ranger
that he was aiming at a fish and that the turtle swam away.
"It was shot in the back, but we're not sure how badly it was injured," Darling said.
The suspect has not yet been charged, he said. NOAA law
enforcement officials, who have the lead in the case and will follow
up, would like to locate the turtle to make the charges more specific
-- though finding the animal isn't necessary for prosecution, Darling
Five different species of sea turtles are found around the Cape
Hatteras National Seashore—loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s Ridley
(LepIdochelys kempii), green (Cehlonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys
coriacea), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbriacata).
All of them are either threatened or endangered, and the punishment varies, depending on how the turtle is listed.
Violations involving an endangered species are punishable by fines of
up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. Crimes involving
threatened species are fines of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up
to six months.
Darling said seashore law enforcement rangers recovered the spear used
in the incident and will have it tested for turtle DNA to help with
However, NPS and NOAA want to recover the turtle is possible. They are asking the public for assistance.
If anyone finds an injured or deceased sea turtle on Hatteras Island or
Ocracoke Island, please contact the National Park Service at
252-475-9010 or 9013.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore law enforcement rangers are working
with federal, state and local authorities to solve this crime.
The Dare Community Crimeline is offering a reward for information
leading to the conviction in this case. For more information,
please contact: http://darecommunitycrimeline.org or call 252-473-3111 or 800-745-2746.