An animal welfare worker in Queensland, Australia, did not hold back when he received reports of two men standing on the back of a turtle pretending to “surf.”
“These guys are just complete idiots ― there’s no way they should be doing what they were doing,” Michael Beatty, spokesman for Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Queensland, told the Fraser Coast Chronicle on Wednesday.
An Instagram user named Ricky Rogers posted the now-infamous photo, which shows two men posing atop a sea turtle on the beach.
“Surfed a tortoise on zee weekend.. gnarly duddddeeeee,” the post reads. The location was tagged “Fraiser Island,” presumably a misspelling of Australia’s Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland. The post went viral after wildlife photographer Matt Wright shared it on Facebook.
It’s unclear whether the turtle was alive or dead at the time of the photo, but Beatty noted that if the animal were alive, the men could have seriously injured it.
A Queensland Park and Wildlife Service spokesperson told the Chronicle that there is some evidence the turtle was deceased. A second photo shows a sea turtle ― which may be the same one ― with its head hanging down and the words “RIP” written in the sand next to it, Yahoo News Australia notes.
Rogers has since made his social media accounts private, but not before numerous people reported the images to authorities. Queensland National Parks said in a statement on Facebook Wednesday that rangers are investigating the incident.
Park officials have not released any information about the identity of the men.
If the men are found guilty of interfering with a natural resource, they could face up to $20,000 each in fines, a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson told the Chronicle.
Sea turtles begin coming ashore in October and November for nesting, ranger Cathy Gatley told MSN. On Tuesday, Queensland National Parks posted a happier series of photos, showing rangers escorting a large turtle, which had reportedly come in with the high tide to rest, safely back to the water.