San Juan, May 24 :
Puerto Rican authorities have launched an investigation to find those responsible for the killing of a leatherback sea turtle, a species in danger of extinction, on the island’s southeast coast.
This was announced in a communique from Carmen Guerrero Perez, the secretary of the Natural and Environmental Resources Department, or DRNA, who described the incident on the beach of the El Negro sector of Yabucoa as “an atrocity”, since the animal showed signs of having been beaten to death by blows to the head.
“We’re seeking citizens’ cooperation in identifying and prosecuting those responsible,” Guerrero Perez said about the killing, the first of its kind to be known in the US commonwealth since June 2011.
Carlos Diez, the head of the DRNA’s Sea Turtle Programme, said that those who attack leathernecks commit their crimes in order to take their meat and eggs, which they then sell illegally, though on this occasion they did not take either.
“At least someone sounded the alarm and the nests could be saved,” Diez said.
Killing, injuring, harassing or trapping a sea turtle, as well as buying or selling a turtle or its eggs, is punished in Puerto Rico with fines of up to $50,000 and as much as a year in jail.