Dec. 20, 2004 — The trial of man accused of poaching three rare sea turtles started Monday.
Myron King, 54, was arrested in the early hours of Aug. 28 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found three Green sea turtles on his small power boat.
The animals are on the federal threatened species list and are illegal to capture or possess.
King and an unknown accomplice were stopped while boating at midnight without lights near Coral World, said U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones.
King initially refused the federal agents' order to stop the boat, and the alleged accomplice escaped by diving overboard, Jones said.
Customs agents at first thought King was transporting illegal drugs, but a search of the vessel reveled one 300-pound and two 200-pound turtles. One of the turtles was still in a net and all three were laying on their backs, Jones said.
The turtles, all breading-age females, were transported to Coral World and treated for mild dehydration, said Trudie Prior, general manager of Coral World. The turtles were later released into the ocean.Green turtle meat is considered a delicacy in the Caribbean.
"We're very lucky the customs fellows were out there," Prior said. "Normally, by the time they reach the culprit, the animal is dead."
If found guilty of poaching, King could be sentenced to six months in prison, Jones said.
Coral World itself has been the target of poachers. Three years ago someone broke into it and stole two Hawksbill turtles, which are sought for their shells. Three others were stabbed, but lived, Prior said.
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