Sea turtle arrest raises eyebrows at Clearwater aquarium - WNCT

Sea turtle arrest raises eyebrows at Clearwater aquarium

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Kim Raymond Feaste Kim Raymond Feaste
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -

A weekend arrest in Tampa has some at Clearwater Marine Aquarium scratching their heads.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrested 21-year-old Kim Raymond Feaste on Sunday. They say they had tips from the public that he was the one pictured disturbing a sea turtle nest in Sarasota, attempting to harvest some eggs.

"The nests are clearly marked. We mark them with signs from Florida Fish and Wildlife saying that they are a protected species," said Mike Anderson, Clearwater Marine Aquarium's supervisor of Marine Turtle Programs. "It's just amazing that people will do something like that. I mean, maybe sometimes they don't realize what they're getting into. Maybe they are uneducated on the facts of these animals."

Anderson added that the turtles may grow up to 250 pounds.

The aquarium recently opened a new turtle rehab facility that more than doubled its capacity to house sick and injured sea turtles.

FWC officials also questioned Feaste's motives.

"Anytime someone disturbs the nest of any type of animal or takes any kind of animal it's disturbing to myself as well as the department," said department spokesman and officer Beryl Martin. "We're trying to keep the animals safe and protect any type of endangered species." 

At the time of his arrest, they say Feaste also had an endangered sea turtle in an aquarium in his Channelside apartment.

Officers charged Feaste with possession of a sea turtle, a third-degree felony. They say he will also face charges in Sarasota County for disturbing that sea turtle nest. Deputies released him from jail a few hours after his arrest after he posted a 2-thousand dollar bond.

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