Police officers have arrested one of two women for allegedly sitting on a nesting sea turtle on a beach in Florida.
Stephanie Marie Moore and an unidentified friend caused outrage after they were pictured on social app Snapchat and Facebook, appearing to mount the endangered reptile in July.
The incident reportedly occurred at Melbourne Beach, a 20-mile stretch that “is home to the most important sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States" according to the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy.
One of the women who has been identified is 20-year-old Stephanie Marie Moore
20-year-old Moore was taken to Brevard County Jail by officers when they were responding to a house disturbance.
She was wanted for “possession, disturbance, mutilation, destruction, selling, transference, molestation, and harassment of marine turtles, nests or eggs.”
A second woman who appeared in the pictures has been identified, but not arrested.
An estimated 90 percent of the creatures in the United States call that area home, which is why civic leaders go to great lengths to both protect sea turtles and to educate humans about them.
Florida's Marine Turtle Protection Act restricts the disturbance, molestation or harassment of sea turtles, which are a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Sea turtles in Florida face an uncertain future – and are particularly vulnerable to illegal harvesting, pollution and habitat encroachment.
David Hochberg, chairman of the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, has said he hopes Moore's punishment will "sting a bit."
"I do hope that there is some kind of penalty levied against her to where she realises that what she did was not only stupid, but wrong," he added.