Professional surfer Jamie O’Brien could face fines of up to $13,200 under a possible violation of the Endangered Species Act after being photographed with what appears to be a Hawaiian green sea turtle. Most reports say that O’Brien was riding the turtle, but others argue that O’Brien appears to be pretending to have inappropriate relations with it.
In light of a recent post on O’Brien’s Tumblr, the latter might make more sense. On October 27, he wrote:
Fibropapillomatosis of sea turtles is probably caused by a herpes-type virus, and is causing an epidemic amongst sea turtles. Sea turtle fibropapillomatosis (FP) was first discovered in 1938. FP is a disease marked by proliferation of benign but debilitating cutaneous fibropapillomas and occasional visceral alien.
While much research has been and continues to be done to find the causes and remedies for FP, there is a new and alarming development. Fibropapilloma tumors are starting to show up on other sea turtle species in increasing numbers! If the same pattern of infection occurs as was seen with green turtles, it will not be long before FP outstrips even homo sapiens as the single greatest threat to marine turtles.
If it is an attempt to draw attention to the plight of turtles, it surely must be one of the most misguided in the history of animal activism. Federal officials are looking to determine if charges will be brought.
“Our initial reaction is like, woah, what’s going on!?” said Pat Opay, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Endangered Species Branch chief. “You have to maintain your distance and we have guidelines stated guidelines that suggest don’t feed the animals, don’t pet the animals, don’t ride the animals. In this particular instance this individual was actually riding the animal.
“If there’s an infraction of the ESA, the Endangered Species Act there are certain penalties that can be assessed. This incident has been referred to our NOAA enforcement group and they’re looking at it right now as we speak.”
O’Brien has been unavailable for comment. Also on October 27, he wrote via Twitter, “Lesson 4 Today: Heavy petting with turtles may lead to fortuitous relations with the reptile… & the forever disease.”
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