FT. LAUDERDALE, FL – Ft. Pierce resident Kyle Patterson, a law enforcement officer and investigator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), has received the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Award for Marine Conservation.
Patterson was honored for his dedication to enforcing marine conservation and boating safety laws at the recent FWC Commission meeting in Ft. Lauderdale. Fish & Wildlife Foundation CEO Andrew Walker made the presentation on behalf of the GHOF.
“Investigator Patterson is being honored for his around-the-clock dedication to protecting Florida’s marine resources and the safety of the boating public,” Walker said. “We’re pleased to recognize his deep commitment to conservation in partnership with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.”
Investigator Patterson routinely patrols coastal St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties, which harbor Florida’s highest density of nesting marine turtles, to enforce the Marine Turtle Protection Act. In August of 2015, James McGriff of Riviera Beach, who had an extensive history of marine turtle egg poaching, was arrested in St. Lucie County on Hutchinson Island for felony possession of marine turtle eggs and molestation of three marine turtle nests. Patterson was lead investigator and directly involved with the subsequent arrest and interview of McGriff.
This led to the 2017 multi-jurisdictional investigation of another suspected turtle egg poacher, Carl Cobb of Riviera Beach, that required many long days and nights of surveillance by Patterson and his colleagues, which led ultimately to Cobb and Raymond L. Saunders, also of Riviera Beach, being arrested for possession of nearly 500 marine turtle eggs. The timely arrest led to 444 of the loggerhead turtle eggs being reburied, with more than 70 percent of the reburied eggs hatching. Cobb and Saunders were each sentenced to seven months in prison for transporting sea turtle eggs for the purpose of selling them.
Sea turtle egg poachers pose a significant threat to the conservation of the species. Poachers generally try to sell the eggs — which are from threatened species — for $3 to $5 per egg, according to FWC wildlife authorities. If caught, poachers face paying up to $100 per egg in addition to other fines and jail time.
Investigator Patterson began his career with the FWC in January 2007. He’s a member of the Florida Agricultural Crimes Intelligence Unit, as well as the Florida Marine Intelligence Unit, which covers training in boating accidents, derelict vessels, vessel theft and identification, diver deaths, and more. He is an instructor for Boating-Under-the-Influence training programs and ranks highly in the region with the number of BUI/DUI-related arrests and investigations with which he’s been involved.
Investigator Patterson is also active in Future Farmers of America and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Florida Farm Bureau of St. Lucie County.
“We think Investigator Patterson is a fitting choice for this award,” said Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Executive Director Greg Jacoski. “He exemplifies all that Guy Harvey and our Foundation represent – an unwavering lifetime commitment to understanding, conserving and appreciating the irreplaceable creatures that inhabit our oceans. We congratulate him and the FWC for all they do.”
Founded by world-renowned marine artist, conservationist and biologist Dr. Guy Harvey, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators focused on developing sensible strategies for promoting the conservation of our oceans and nurturing the next generation of marine scientists and guardians of our seas.
Through the generous philanthropy inspired by Dr. Harvey’s art, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation also funds exceptional research and innovative educational programs developed by universities, colleges, institutes and nonprofit organizations.
About Guy Harvey:
Guy Harvey is a unique blend of artist, scientist, diver, angler, conservationist and explorer, fiercely devoted to his family and his love of the sea. His childhood passion for the ocean and its living creatures not only inspired him to draw, but fueled a burning interest that prompted a formal education in marine science. Having graduated with honors in marine biology from Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1977, Guy returned home to Jamaica to resume his education, earning his Ph.D. from the University of the West Indies in 1984. Though he gave up a budding career as a marine biologist for that of a highly-acclaimed artist, Guy has continued his relentless pursuit to unravel the mysteries of the sea, traveling the world to better understand the habits and habitats of the marine wildlife he paints. For more information, visit GuyHarvey.com.
About the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation:
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation conducts scientific research and hosts educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment. The GHOF also funds affiliated researchers working to better understand our ocean ecosystem and educators helping to foster the next era of marine conservationists. The GHOF will help ensure that future generations can enjoy and benefit from a properly balanced ocean ecosystem.
About the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida:
The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a not-for-profit organization that raises funds to enhance the conservation work of the FWC and other public and private conservation partners. FWFF also supports the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, which provides annually more than 200,000 Florida children with formative outdoor experiences via summer camps, school programs and other activities. For more information, visit WildlifeFlorida.org or call 941 809-7805.