Aquarium Workers Ate Rare Turtle


Tuesday, February 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


MIAMI (AP) — Flesh from a protected species of sea turtle that died at the Miami Seaquarium was turned into stew and eaten by some of the facility's workers.

No charges were filed because the Seaquarium's permit to handle endangered species didn't specifically say how dead animals were to be disposed of, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Lt. John D. West said.

The leatherback sea turtle had died of injuries caused by a collision with a boat. Leatherbacks, one of the rarest sea turtle species, are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Seaquarium general manager Robert Martinez sent workers a memo after the incident last April warning them to properly dispose of animal carcasses or face disciplinary action or termination.

``This is the absolute height of stupidity,'' said Dolphin Freedom Foundation and Seaquarium critic Russ Rector. ``We're changing the name to the Miami Seaquarium and Barbeque.''

Two workers — Dr. Maya Dougherty, the veterinarian who conducted the necropsy, and Chris Plante, the animal care supervisor — had letters put in their personnel files saying they used poor judgment for allowing a park worker to take some of the turtle's meat home for a stew, Seaquarium officials said.

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