According to The Turtle Hospital’s Bette Zirklebach said “Splinter,” the 150-pound sea turtle found off Key Largo this past weekend is in guarded condition.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” she said.

The story has garnered plenty of local and national attention and many are wondering what type of fiend would hurt such a docile creature. Finding and prosecuting the person responsible is paramount, Zirkleback said.

Despite a hefty reward of $5,000 being offered, as of Sept. 11, the hospital had yet to receive any tips through a special hotline (see more information below). But the Turtle Hospital was able to pass some important clues to the Keys Weekly, in hopes of catching the perpetrator.

One, the spearing happened at least a month ago, maybe two.

“We can tell by the necrotic tissue,” she said.

Veterinarian Dr. Doug Mader removes the spear on Sept. 7. A $5,000 reward has been offered for the identity of the perpetrator.

Two, the three-foot spear is homemade; not something that can be bought off the shelf.

Third, it’s most likely to have happened in the waters off Miami or the Upper Keys, as Zirklebach doesn’t think the animal could have traveled far.

“As much as everyone wants to believe that this could never happen in the U.S., I think we have to consider it,” she said.

An x-ray of the turtle, nick named “Splinter,” shows the invasive depth of the homemade spear.

saA boater discovered the green sea turtle, shot with a spear and entangled in trapline, on Carysfort Reef off of Key Largo on Sept. 7. The reptile was taken to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, where veterinarian Dr. Doug Mader did an endoscope and performed emergency surgery to remove the spear.

This makes the second sea turtle found impaled with a spear this summer. The first was a dead sea turtle recovered in Biscayne National Park with a spear in its head in June.

All species of sea turtles in and around the United States are listed as threatened or endangered. They are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act. Violations could bring civil to criminal charges with penalties including fines and prison time.

The Turtle Hospital’s chairman of the board, Richie Moretti, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who speared the sea turtle rescued on Sept. 7. Zirklebach said she’s hopeful that the Fish and Wildlife Commission will also offer some tip money and help advertise the reward. Those with information should call 305-743-2552, and may remain anonymous.

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