Loggerhead sea turtles are a threatened species so possessing them is restricted and keeping them at home is strictly prohibited. Violators could possibly be imprisoned or fined.
A man from Palm Beach County, Florida found these out the hard way after he was cited for keeping two hatchlings in an aquarium at home.
Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission visited the home of William Henry Jowett after receiving a tip that he was keeping two of the threatened reptile at home.
The 53-year old eventually received a misdemeanor citation after he was discovered keeping two loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. The penalties for this included up to one year imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $1,000.
Jowett reportedly obtained the animals from the canal in his backyard two months ago and decided to place these in a saltwater aquarium to show to his daughter. He said that he had plans to release the turtles but became attached to the animals.
The animals were taken from the aquarium and moved to the Loggerhead Marine Life Sanctuary Center. The turtles were later released offshore.
The FWC said that the case is a good example on how tips that the public provide can help. It also urged those who suspect of similar violations to report it to the agency's Wildlife Alert Reward Program by sending an email to Tip@MyFWC.com and calling 888-404-FWCC (3922).
"Our mission is to conserve Florida's natural resources and protect its people through proactive and responsive law enforcement services," said FWC Lt. Chris Harris. "This investigation is only one example of our commitment to achieve this goal and demonstrates our efforts working with federal partners, the general public and the State Attorney."
Loggerheads were so named for their large heads that are capable of supporting powerful jaws and allow them to feed on hard-shelled preys such as conch and whelks. They are characterized by a reddish brown and heart-shaped top shell and a yellowish bottom shell.
Adult loggerheads weigh about 250 pounds and measure about 3 feet. Hatchlings, on the other hand, are about 0.05 pounds and around 2 inches long.
Although the species is the most abundant of marine turtles in the U.S. waters, loggerheads suffered persistent population decline because of pollution, developments in their nesting places and shrimp trawling. The marine animal has been in the threatened species list since 1978.