A man has pleaded guilty of poaching sea turtle eggs. This is not Kenneth Cornelius Coleman’s first offense with sea turtle eggs; in 2010 he was sentenced to more than two years in prison. Coleman’s acts violate the Lacey Act; sea turtle eggs are protected under the Endangered Species Act. He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The 52-year-old Juno Beach man pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully poaching endangered sea turtle eggs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. In July 2013 the Loggerhead Marine Life Center’s beach and sea turtle surveyors found that sea turtle nests had been disturbed near the beach crossover. Probing marks could be seen near the disturbed nests and six turtle eggs were found in a trail in the sand.
After being convicted in 2010 Coleman was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervision following his jail stay. After digging up and stealing nearly 120 eggs on the beach in August 2010 Coleman was arrested. On December 16, 2010 he pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing green sea turtle eggs.
As stated in court and other documents a Juno Beach police officer spotted Coleman in the early hours of the morning of August 27 riding his bike in the wrong direction on Ocean Drive, without lights. Once seen he quickly sped away but was later caught.
Juno Beach law enforcement found three canvas bags and a wooden stick. One of the bags had 213 sea turtles eggs inside. Since Coleman has given DNA samples to officers in a previous case. Investigators used DNA analysis and linked Coleman to the bag. Experts were able to re-bury 219 eggs. After another 97 eggs were found by police on the next day, there were buried again also.
Sea turtle are ancient creatures that have been on Earth for greater than 100 million years. They even survived the dinosaurs after they became extinct over 65 million years ago. There are several threats these marine reptiles face such as habitat loss, entanglement and consumption of their meat and egg. Six of the seven sea turtle species, from leatherbacks to loggerheads, are endangered or threatened at the hand of humans.
Although sea turtles need air to survive they are well-adapted to the ocean. They can weigh anywhere between 80 to 1,000 pounds, depending on species and size. The carapace of the sea turtle is designed for swimming through water. They cannot retract their head and legs into their shells like other turtles.
These eggs are illegal imports making it hard to identify the exact black market value, but the Fish and Wildlife Service believe it is about $3 to $5 per egg. This would make the value of the 316 eggs found in this case to be at least $948 and at best $1,580.
When Coleman was questioned about sea turtle egg poaching he answered by saying he did not know anything about any turtle eggs. After being detained Kenneth Cornelius Coleman has pleaded guilty of poaching sea turtle eggs. This is not his first offense with sea turtle eggs. In Coleman’s most recent case he faces of up to five years in a federal prison, $250,000 in fines and up to three years of supervision upon release.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)