BY KEVIN WADLOW
Marine officers apparently have video of Carlos Hernandez riding the turtle.
Riding a sea turtle and spearing a shark near Conch Key put a Miami man in jail Sunday, state marine officers report. Carlos A. Hernandez, 31, was booked into the Monroe County jail on five misdemeanor conservation counts — and one felony count of harassing a protected sea turtle. A witness near the south end of the Long Key Bridge around mile marker 63 recorded a video of Hernandez “riding a sea turtle and taking it out of the water,” said Officer Bobby Dube, Keys spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hernandez released the turtle alive but Florida law says a person who “molests or harasses any marine turtle species” can be charged with a third-degree felony. FWC Lt. Mike Haney and Officer Paul Hein found photos of Hernandez with the turtle on Hernandez’s cell phone, Dube said. The officers responded to a call around 7 p.m. Sunday when a witness suspected a man was spearfishing for protected fish species. A search of Hernandez’s cooler resulted in finding “a speared, undersized nurse shark,” Dube said. It is illegal to spear any shark species in Florida waters. Hernandez also reportedly had speared spadefish, one of several species of ornamental reef fish that are off-limits to spearfishing. He also was charged with failing to maintain snapper in whole condition while fishing at a bridge or pier.Hernandez was released from the Marathon jail early Tuesday on a $4,700 bond.