Reward Grows for Speared Turtle

Reward Grows for Speared Turtle

Florida Fish and Wildlife is currently investigating the attempted slaughter or the endangered turtle. Anonymous tips can be called into the Turtle Hospital by dialing (305) 743-2552.

The total reward is now $10,750, plus three free dives, three free fishing trips and eight hours of free welding and fabrication!


On August 9, Save-A-Turtle of the Florida Keys pledged $500 and Kipp’s Welding and Fabrication of Key Largo pledged eight hours free welding anywhere in the Florida Keys. The reward increased by $7,500 on August 8 when long-time sea turtle volunteer and Turtle Hospital engineer Tom Luebke pledged $4,000, which was promptly matched by Turtle Hospital founder Richie Moretti who added $3,500 to his original reward of $500.


The reward is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who speared a loggerhead sea turtle that was rescued on August 3, 2011, offshore near Big Pine Key. Please call (305) 743-2552 with information. You may remain anonymous.


After Richie Moretti pledged the initial $500 reward, Jason Martinez of Sugarloaf added $500 and the FL Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association (FKCFA) and the Organized Fishermen of FL (OFF), Marathon Chapter, added $500 more. Matt Bellinger of Bamboo Charters pledged the full-day fishing trips, and Captain Slate’s Atlantis Dive Center three free dives. Stacy Shippe and Pat McCarthy of Outta the Blue Marina added $250 to the reward. Nancy Mayhew, owner of Salsa Loca Restaurant in Key West, and The Horvats of Gulf View Waterfront Resort made donations toward Sara’s care. The reward increased another $1,000 on Sunday when Cee Dee Air Conditioning of Jupiter (owner Thomas Schenck and Chuckie D, former DJ for Thunder Country) pledged $500, as did Brad Brooks and Jessica Mootz from Ponte Vedra Beach.

Cash reward offered for info

(posted August 5, 2011)

By Jason Koler

On Thursday morning, Turtle Hospital founder Ritchie Moretti, issued a $500 reward for anyone with information regarding the spearing of a loggerhead sea turtle near Big Pine Key.

The turtle was spotted on the oceanside of Big Pine by a couple of recreational fishermen who called the Coast Guard and then raced the 125 pound turtle back to their dock for treatment.

[pullquote]“There is somebody out there who has been shooting turtles in the last day or so. We haven’t seen any incidents like this in three years. We have had two since April. Now we have a problem.” – Ritchie Moretti, Turtle Hospital Founder[/pullquote]

Turtle Hospital manager Jo Ellen Basile arrived to find the endangered “very much alive,” but with a four foot spear lanced through its head.

She said the turtle produced, “sluttery breathing because the spear was right in front of its glottis.”

After the Marathon Vet Hospital’s Dr. Doug Mader sedated the turtle, members of Monroe County Fire Rescue (Station 13) sawed several feet off the spear in order to get the turtle into the rescue van.

A sub-adult (20-25 years) loggerhead turtle was rescued by Nicholas Borg on the oceanside of Big Pine this past Wednesday. The following morning, the spear was safely removed from the turtle’s head and “Sara,” who was named after her rescuer’s sister, is expected to make a full recovery.


The spear was removed by Mader the following morning and the diagnosis is positive for the young turtle.

“I just want to find out who is shooting my babies,” he said.

When he opened the turtle rescue facility in 1986, the slaughter and attempted killing of turtles “was commonplace.”

Since then, incidents have dropped dramatically and Moretti hadn’t responded to a turtle killing in over three years – until this past April when the butchered remains of a loggerhead was found on Big Pine.

“Each turtle is so important,” Moretti said. “We estimate that only one of every hundred babies in the nest will make it, so if we lose one, we feel like we have lost 100.”

The turtle, named for the rescuer’s little sister, Sara, is expected to rehab at the Turtle Hospital for the next three weeks before he is released.

Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) associated with this case should call the Turtle Hotline at (305) 743-2552. For more info on the Turtle Hospital, please visit


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