Florida Keys

They said they were fishing. But what they caught was highly illegal, marine cops say

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers stand next to a pickup truck with a bed full of illegally caught Florida lobsters.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers stand next to a pickup truck with a bed full of illegally caught Florida lobsters.

Two Pompano Beach men are in hot water after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said they caught them with dozens of illegally caught lobsters in their truck and in their Marathon hotel room.

Silva Marcelo, 50, and Oliveira Nunes, 38, each face 45 conservation violation counts.

FWC officers questioned the men around 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Quay boat ramp in Marathon. They said they were fishing, but the officers said they looked like they were searching for lobsters, which are out of season until Aug. 6. The men had a long pole net and a snare, according to an FWC arrest report.

Have you ever wondered where the lobster on your plate came from? This video breaks down the complex life cycle of a Caribbean spiny lobster and the journey many lobsters take through the Caribbean to the Florida Keys.

In the back of Marcelo's pickup truck, officers found 20 lobsters, according to the arrest report. Eighteen were undersized and six of the lobsters' carapaces were punctured. It is illegal to spearfish for lobster. Marcelo told police he harvested five of the lobsters and bought the rest.

The men were booked into county jail on Stock Island.

The next day, staff at the Holiday Inn Express in Marathon called the Monroe County Sheriff's Office to report a cooler full of lobsters and crab in the room of two men who were scheduled to check out.

The room was registered to Marcelo. Inside the coolers, FWC officers found 32 lobsters.

A deckhand for the Florida Keys dive shop Captain Hooks filmed a large great white shark swimming above the Thunderbolt wreck off Marathon Thursday, May 17, 2018.

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