NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Wildlife investigators say someone tortured and killed a rare sea turtle. Now they're offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information.
The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle was found washed up on North Topsail Beach, dead, with his flippers tied together. The turtle has become a federal investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA.
Investigators won't let us show you pictures of the dead turtle because they are being used as evidence, but a necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals, shows the turtle's death was not an accident.
"It didn't die a natural death," said Karen Sota, a volunteer at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. "It had obviously been tortured and brutalized by somebody with absolutely no respect for life or a conscience. It was a very unpleasant ending for this innocent and defenseless little creature that was just out in the ocean making its way in life."
Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Kemp's Ridleys are the rarest and most endangered of all sea turtles.
The maximum penalties for the unlawful taking of a sea turtle are one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip with the National Marine Fisheries Service at (800) 853-1964.