Russian tourist arrested for killing endangered sea turtle

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Dumaguete City (CNN Philippines, May 18) - Police arrested a Russian tourist on Wednesday for allegedly shooting an endangered sea turtle with a speargun in a marine sanctuary in Dauin, Negros Oriental.

The foreigner was identified as Anton Likharev, 35 years old and a Russian national, Dauin Police Chief Police Investigator Bernabe Rubio said.

Initial police investigation said the Russian national was spotted Wednesday morning by community-based fisheries patrol group Bantay Dagat during its regular patrol inside the Dauin Marine Sanctuary.

While swimming and diving is allowed in the sanctuary, Rubio said the patrol spotted Likharev carrying an item wrapped in a towel when he got out of the water, which prompted them to investigate.

When they approached Likharev, the sea patrol discovered a nearly dead green sea turtle with a spear still impaled through its head. They immediately informed the local police and took custody of Likharev.

The sea turtle died from its injuries the same day.

Green turtles, which are endemic to the Philippines, are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

When interviewed by the police, Likharev said he was after big fish, but unfortunately hit the turtle, which was resting among the corals.

Police have since charged Likharev for violating of Sec. 97 of Republic Act 8550 under the Philippine Fisheries Code, which prohibits fishing or taking threatened and endangered species.

Violation of the provision is punishable by 12 to 20 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of P120,000.