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FWC Weekly Report

This FWC Weekly Report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.


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Officer Kinney was working the Panama City Pass when he was flagged down by Officer Basford. Officer Basford was off duty, but had observed a subject illegally spear fishing the jetties at the St. Andrew’s State Park. He provided Officer Kinney with the location and description. Officer Kinney arrived at the location and observed the individual as he got back into his boat with the spear gun and fish. The subject was cited for spear fishing within 100 feet of a jetty and a written warning for no dive flag.

Officer Gore was on water patrol on Deerpoint Lake when he observed two subjects operating a PWC without PFD’s. A stop was made and when the operator opened the console of the PWC, a bag of cannabis could be seen in plain view. The operator was cited for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis and written warnings were issued for the boating violations.

Officer Gore was working the opening of the alligator hunting season when he noticed a truck and trailer at a Crooked Creek boat ramp that had been at a boat ramp on Deerpoint Lake the previous night. When he checked the truck, he noted a large pool of congealed blood in the bed of the truck. Officer Gore waited for the vessel to return and around 1:30 a.m., the vessel returned to the ramp. A resource inspection was conducted on the two subjects in the vessel who possessed alligator trapping licenses. In the vessel was a tagged 8‑foot alligator. When Officer Gore inspected the tag, it popped open when touched and a closer inspection revealed the tag had been altered. The hunters had another tag with them and it also appeared to have been altered. When asked about the blood in the bed of the truck, one hunter said he had to put down a dog. When the hunters were told they had been observed night hunting on Deerpoint Lake the previous night, they said the blood was from an alligator killed that night. They went on to say the altered tag on the current alligator was the one they had used the previous night. When asked where the other alligator was, the hunters said it had been cleaned at one of their residences. The hunters took Officer Gore to the residence where Officer Palmer met him to assist. Four gallon bags of alligator meat and an alligator head were located at the residence. Citations for possession of untagged alligator meat and unattached CITES tags were issued. The 8‑foot alligator, the four bags of meat, the alligator head, and the two altered CITES tags were seized.

Officer Webb was working the opening weekend of alligator season and on his way from Lake Wimico to St. Joe Bay, he noticed a vessel pull into the Highland View Boat Ramp. There were four people on board and he could see offshore tackle on board the vessel as well. Officer Webb asked the fishermen if they had any fish and one of the men responded that they had some grouper. Officer Webb then proceeded to inspect their catch. Inside the large fish box were several grouper. Further inspection revealed three large red snapper underneath the grouper and ice. The out‑of‑state fishermen were written citations for possession of red snapper out of season and the snapper were seized as evidence.

Officer Cushing received a complaint through dispatch that an individual was spearing egg-bearing blue crabs on the jetty at Ft. Pickens. The complainant advised that he informed the subject that it was unlawful to spear blue crabs, but despite the warning, the subject continued. Because of the accurate description of the individual and vessel, Officer Cushing was able to locate the subject. Upon initial contact, the subject was reluctant to come forth and admit that he had harvested anything. The inspection revealed eight speared blue crabs, six of which were egg-bearing. The subject was issued a citation for illegal harvest of egg-bearing blue crabs.

Officers Hutchinson and Ramos were working the Escambia River when they observed a vessel return to a boat ramp after participating in the statewide alligator harvest. When they checked the vessel, they observed an 8‑foot alligator in the airboat. The alligator was not tagged as required. After further investigation, the officers determined that one of the hunters was not properly licensed and that he shot the alligator with a pistol, a prohibited method. The officers seized the alligator, firearm, and other necessary evidence and issued the appropriate citations.

After receiving a complaint, Investigator Wilkenson conducted a site inspection of a yard trash facility. Investigator Wilkenson observed a large commercial quantity of yard trash debris on the property along with a log splitter and a portable tree grinder. It was determined the yard trash debris was an offsite generated material being stored and processed at an unpermitted facility. This past March, the owner of the tree removal business was educated on the permit requirements for storing offsite generated material through an operation plan initiative in educating through outreach efforts. The owner was issued a citation for storing/processing yard trash debris at an unpermitted facility, a first degree misdemeanor.

Lieutenant Walsingham and Officer Brooks responded to a call of an intoxicated female creating a disturbance at Ponce De Leon State Park. Upon arrival, they encountered a female drinking beer and sitting in a golf cart. She was mumbling and unaware of her surroundings. The park ranger stated that the female was very intoxicated, talking to herself, and yelling at kids that weren’t there. She had approached the ranger’s golf cart and placed all her items in the back and told him that she was going to take the cart home and her husband would bring it back after work. He told her that she could not use the cart and she attempted to drive away. He removed the keys and prevented her from leaving. She was determined to be a threat to herself and others due to her intoxication and was transported to Holmes County Jail for further observation. She was also issued a citation for consumption of alcohol in the state park and a trespass warning.

Lieutenant Berryman was on vessel patrol in Bayou Texar when he heard a call for assistance over the VHF radio. The complainant advised that his sailboat was almost struck by another sailboat and that the people on board appeared to be in a fight. Once on scene, Lieutenant Berryman observed three white males on a 32‑foot sailboat with the sail flapping in the wind and blood from bow to stern. Two of the three subjects were bleeding; one from his right hand and the other from his face. One of these two subjects, the operator of the vessel, appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard arrived to assist and all three subjects were brought back to shore where interviews were conducted. It was learned the owner of the boat struck the operator of the boat in the face because he was drunk and passed out at the helm. Lieutenant Berryman requested the operator to perform some standardized field sobriety tasks and he agreed to do so. After failing several tasks, the operator of the vessel was placed under arrest for BUI and transported to the Santa Rosa County Jail for booking. In addition, the owner of the boat was arrested for battery and also transported to the Santa Rosa County Jail.

While on water patrol on Santa Rosa Sound near Navarre, Officer Jones and Lieutenant Clark found an abandoned derelict 24-foot Capri sailboat near the shoreline and adjacent to a private home. Officer Jones and Investigator Schafer contacted and interviewed the registered owner. The officers explained to him that it was his responsibility to remove the derelict and that he could avoid misdemeanor charges by doing so. The owner was sent a registered letter advising him of the same information and allowing five days to remove the derelict. After more than the allotted time had passed, Officer Jones confirmed that the derelict had not been removed. He contacted the owner and issued a notice to appear (citation) on a misdemeanor charge of allowing a vessel to become derelict on the waters of the State of Florida.

Officer Pineda was on water patrol when he observed a vessel violating the no wake zone around the Navarre Beach Boat Ramp. He stopped the vessel and observed signs of impairment with the operator. In addition, the passenger was also showing signs of impairment. Officer Pineda asked the operator of the vessel to undergo some field sobriety tasks and he agreed to do so. After conducting several field sobriety tasks, it was determined that the operator vessel was in fact under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was placed under arrest for BUI. He was transported and booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail.

Officer Lewis and Lieutenant Hahr were patrolling around Bear Lake in the Blackwater River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when they observed a vessel returning to a primitive site. After the subjects loaded their boat, the officers inspected the vessel. There were four black bass in the boat and one was clearly under the 12‑inch minimum. While inspecting the vessel further, they located what appeared to be a meth pipe and a cannabis pipe. A small amount of cannabis was also located in the suspect’s truck. The man was issued notices to appear for possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of undersized black bass.

During the weekend of the Emerald Coast Poker Run, Investigator Armstrong and Officer Molnar conducted a vessel stop at Crab Island for failure to display FL numbers. The operator of the vessel showed multiple signs of impairment and agreed to perform field sobriety tasks. Upon the conclusion of the tasks, Officer Molnar arrested the subject for BUI and was transported to U.S. Coast Guard Destin. He provided a breath sample of .123 and .127. The subject was also issued citations for insufficient number of PFD’s and operating an unregistered vessel.

Officer Maltais responded to assist the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing swimmer off Marler Park in Fort Walton Beach. The search involved Okaloosa County SO Dive Team/Marine Unit, Okaloosa Island Fire/EMS, U.S. Coast Guard Destin and FWC. Officer Maltais and Okaloosa County identified the subject’s location the vessel’s side scan sonar late in the evening. Officer Molnar responded the following morning with the Okaloosa County Dive Team and the drowned victim was recovered.

Officer Nichols checked three subjects on the Eglin WMA that were unable to produce daily use permits. A records check of a hand gun found in their possession determined it was stolen from Alabama. The subjects were cited for not having permits and entering the property during prohibited hours. The firearm was seized and Officer Nichols will work with Alabama authorities to return it to the owner.

Officer Arnette responded to a search and rescue on the Blackwater River after receiving information of four stranded subjects that had all been floating on a tube. The tube was damaged from brush in the river and was deflated. A canoe was used to float down to the subject’s location and transport them down river where they had left their vehicle. Baker and Munson Fire Departments responded to assist with the search.

Officer Yates received information from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office regarding an individual who was supposedly in possession of a venomous snake. After an interview, the subject showed Officer Yates an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake in an aquarium located in the living room of the home. He stated that he had been in possession of the snake for several years. The individual was cited for no venomous reptile permit and issued three written warnings for caging requirement violations. The snake was released back into the wild.

COP (Community Oriented Policing)
Lieutenant Hollinhead attended a meeting with a County Commissioner and homeowners about nuisance Canadian geese at lakes in a residential area. The homeowners were provided information for obtaining a Federal permit to protect their property and deter further damage.


Investigator Thomason and Officer Ulrich were patrolling the scallop grounds off Crystal River. They were traveling south towards Homosassa when they saw a vessel on a plane in front of them headed south. It was quickly approaching another vessel that was displaying a vessel dive flag. Investigator Thomason measured the distance with the GPS and it was determined that the on plane vessel was only 144 feet from the dive vessel. A citation for recklessness was issued.

Investigator Thomason, Officers Ulrich, Phillips, VanNess and McAlhany were working an alligator hunt detail. It was approximately midnight when they observed a vessel they had been watching for about an hour coming their way. Investigator Thomason stopped the vessel to perform a boating safety inspection. While checking the safety equipment, Investigator Thomason observed that the operator’s speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. On the deck of his vessel were several empty beer cans, and when he opened the forward compartment to show the life jackets there were even more empty beer cans along with an empty liquor bottle. With what Investigator Thomason observed, he decided to perform field sobriety tasks. The results of the tasks led Investigator Thomason to place the operator under arrest for operating a vessel under the influence and he was taken to the Citrus County Jail where he provided a breath sample of .122 and .129 Breath Alcohol Content (BAC).

Lieutenant Jones, Investigator Thomason, Officers Ulrich, VanNess, Phillips, and McAlhany were working a shrimp detail off Crystal River. Several vessels were checked and a few were cited for improper look-out. During one check, Lieutenant Jones noticed that the rake on the trawls looked too long for a vessel working as a bait shrimp vessel. Investigator Thomason and Officer Ulrich measured the rake. The rake measured 20 feet, they cannot exceed 16 feet. A misdemeanor citation was issued to the captain of the vessel.

While on patrol approximately 65 miles offshore out of Mayport, Officer Geib and Investigator Izsak spotted a fishing vessel near North Florida Marine Protected Area (MPA). When first observed, the vessel was traveling northwest with the anchor dragging behind the boat. The captain stated he was changing his fishing location to look for a better spot. Upon inspection, the crew was using regulated snapper grouper species as bait and in addition the fish was not in whole condition. It was explained to the captain that bottom fishing, anchoring, and transiting the area with gear rigged for fishing are all prohibited activities in the MPA he had just transited. A National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) federal citation was issued to the captain for fish not in whole condition.

Officer Huff and Officer Brookes were patrolling the Twin Rivers WMA when they observed a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a forest road with white burlap sacks hanging out of the trunk. After a quick check of the immediate area, the officers located three subjects harvesting palmetto berries without a permit. Appropriate charges will be direct filed with the State Attorney’s Office.

Officer Boone and Officer Langford were conducting vessel patrol near the confluence of the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers. The officers observed a vessel operating at a high rate of speed in a heavily congested slow speed zone. The officers made contact with the operator and it was determined that alcohol could be a factor. Officer Boone conducted field sobriety exercises and based on the subject’s performance an arrest was made for BUI. The subject consented to a breath sample which resulted in a .187 and .193 BAC.

On Saturday Investigator McMillan and Officer Wilcox were working a local wildlife management area targeting the illegal take of whitetail deer. The officers saw a vehicle approach their location displaying a light out of the driver’s side window. When the light revealed the presence of a deer the vehicle stopped and one shot was heard from a small caliber gun. The officers stopped the vehicle which contained two occupants. A gun was seized and a notice to appear was issued for the violations.


FWC received a complaint from Sebastian Inlet State Park in reference to an angler keeping snook out of season. Officer Kearney and his Field Training Officer responded and set up surveillance. They located the subject at his vehicle. An inspection of the vehicle revealed a 35-inch snook hidden in a plastic bag. The subject was cited for possession of snook during closed season.

While on resource patrol in Merritt Island, Officers Lejarzar and Lightsey observed a suspicious vehicle parked near the water with its windshield smashed. The officers approached the vehicle and observed a man in the front seat. While speaking with the man the officers smelled the odor of cannabis. The man appeared very nervous. When asked, the man admitted to having cannabis under his seat and in his armrest. A notice to appear was issued for possession of cannabis under 20 grams.

Officers Maslo and Humphrey responded to a boating accident with injuries on the Indian River at Rinker’s Canal. The operator of the vessel was traveling on plane southbound leaving the canal when he struck a manatee speed zone sign. As a result three passengers were ejected from the bow of the vessel. Only one of the occupants was injured, a 26 year old female. She was transported to the Parrish Medical Center in Titusville with abrasions on her body and a laceration on her head. She was treated and released after receiving several stitches to close up the laceration above her eye. The vessel suffered extensive damage but was able to make the trip to the Port St. John Boat Ramp under its own power. Charges are pending the completion of the boating accident investigation.

Officer Land responded to one of the beach parks in Vero Beach in reference to the report of a male that had dug into a sea turtle nest. Upon his arrival, Vero Beach Police officers had the male detained. Officer Land obtained sworn statements from two lifeguards that saw the male digging in the nest. Post Miranda, the male also admitted in a sworn statement that he was digging in the nest. The nest was a marked green sea turtle nest. Officer Land will be direct filing felony charges with the State Attorney’s Office for the violation.

Officer Mendez and Lieutenant Fugate were on patrol working alligator harvest opening day when Lieutenant Fugate noticed a glow stick just outside the Mackinson Island Boat Ramp. The stick was moving across the water and submerging erratically. Mendez noticed a small vessel tied up to the pier. The vessel was unmanned and had alligator harvesting equipment and a harvested 5-foot alligator. One rod and reel had a line out attached to the glow stick. The officers walked the island and found two tents. While interviewing the two individuals it was determined they were alligator hunting and had left their gear out in order to catch another gator while they slept. Officer Mendez had the individuals retrieve the lines and issued a notice to appear for hunting alligators with unattended lines along with several boating safety warnings.


Officers Stanley and Morrow were conducting fisheries inspections in the San Carlos Bay area when they stopped a 20-foot vessel returning from the Gulf. They received permission from the captain to board the vessel and upon inspecting an ice cooler they discovered an undersized red grouper. One of the passengers on board admitted that he had caught the fish and stated that they have been catching only undersized red groupers all day and thought this one was legal sized. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for being in possession of an undersized red grouper and released on a notice to appear.


Officers Vacin and Corteguera responded to the vicinity of SE 17th Street in Ft. Lauderdale in response to a call for assistance from the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard had received information that a large yacht in the area had discharged raw sewage into the water. The officers interviewed an individual on board a large vessel in the area. After information was gathered, Officer Vacin conducted a marine sanitation device (MSD) inspection. After the inspection, Officer Vacin issued the individual a citation with a civil penalty of $250.00 for discharge of raw sewage into the water. The individual also corrected his valves, by securing them in the closed position, so not to allow further discharge into the water.

Lieutenant Brown and Officer Alford were patrolling Lake Okeechobee at Cochran’s Pass. Their patrol was focused on the Statewide Alligator Harvest. The officers observed a vessel, with three subjects on board, pulling a free-floating jug line from the water with a alligator attached. After the alligator was landed and tagged the officers inspected the jug line, finding that there was no line attaching the jug to the vessel or to be held by the hunter. Further inspection of the gear led the officers to discover that the hunters were using illegally sized wooden pegs that were four and six inches. The hunters were issued citations for unlawful method of take for alligators.

Officers Greene and Teal were on patrol in Glades County when they encountered a traffic accident involving a bicyclist lying on the ground that had been struck by a vehicle. Officers Greene and Teal immediately started CPR and continued for approximately 20 minutes before EMS arrived. After performing CPR and deploying an AED by EMS, the subject was pronounced dead. The officers collected statements from witnesses for FHP before they arrived. Officers Greene and Teal along with Lieutenant Steelman, K-9 Officer Lilley, and Officers Hofheinz, McLendon, J. Barber, and E. Barber also provided traffic control for FHP.

Officer Hofheinz along with K-9 Officer Lilley stopped a vehicle after observing the occupants fishing at a local pond and the passenger not wearing his seatbelt. The officers approached the vehicle to conduct a freshwater fisheries inspection when they detected the distinct odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside of the vehicle. A short investigation revealed a marijuana cigarette and a small clear bag containing five roxycodone pills hidden inside of a Sunkist can in the center cup holder. Both subjects showed distinct signs of eye lid tremors and were both charged with the misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana under 20 grams and the felony charge of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and were booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Investigator Douglas, Officer Bergwerff, Lieutenant Strenth, Officer Nasworth and Officer Barber assisted a film crew filming activity during the beginning of alligator season. The footage is to be used as part of a pilot for an upcoming event on the National Geographic Channel.

While on patrol in the Holey Lands WMA during the opening weekend of archery season, Reserve Officer Gabor and Officer Carman received a complaint from the check station biologist that a subject was at the check station with an illegal deer. Officers Gabor and Carman arrived at the check station and observed a subject with a deer that had two antlers, neither of which had a fork. The law requires that one antler must be at least five inches from the hairline and the other antler must have two or more points. The subject was cited for the misdemeanor violation of possession of the illegal deer and the deer was seized and entered into evidence.

Officer Nasworth was called out regarding a sunken airboat on the south end of Lake Okeechobee. Dispatch advised him that an airboat had sunk in the area of the old water intake by Torrie Island. Officer Nasworth responded and located the subjects in the area of Winnie’s Cove standing on the seats of their airboat. Officer Nasworth took both subjects onto his vessel and transported them back to the boat ramp. Officer Nasworth gave the airboat operator a boating accident self report form.

Officers Fretwell and Pifer were at a local boat ramp in Fort Pierce when they conducted a fisheries inspection on a boat returning from the water. Contact with the operator and the subsequent inspection revealed possession of two undersized mangrove snappers and one stone crab, which was out of season. The subject had previously been cited for possession of undersized fish. He received a notice to appear for both violations.

Officer Fretwell and K-9 Officer Payne were on a fishing catwalk conducting fisheries inspections when they found two separate individuals that were in possession of undersized yellowtail snapper and hogfish. One of the individuals had previously been cited for possession of undersized fish. Both of the individuals were issued notices to appear for the violations.

Officer Fretwell and Officer Payne were conducting fisheries inspections at a boat ramp in Fort Pierce when a boat came in on plane in a manatee zone. They conducted a resource and boating safety inspection of the vessel. The owner of the boat was in possession of one undersized sheepshead. When the vessel ownership was verified through dispatch, it came back as a homemade vessel. The vessel was inspected further, as it did not visually appear to be homemade. A Hull Identification Number (HIN) was discovered on the back of the boat that came back registered to a different boat. Further investigation revealed that the subject had committed title fraud. A warrant was obtained for the subject on charges of felony title fraud. The suspect was arrested and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail. A notice to appear was also issued for the possession of undersized sheepshead.

Officer Fretwell and Officer Payne received a complaint regarding an individual that was selling fish at a gas station. The individual was located and found to be in possession of a scale and bags. The suspect did have a commercial license to harvest the fish but did not have a retail license to legally sell the fish to the public. The suspect received a notice to appear for selling fish without a retail license.

Officer Payne, while on land patrol on Hutchinson Island, observed a vehicle traveling in front of him, weaving in the lane. When he activated his warning lights, the vehicle continued on. He then activated his siren at which time the driver still did not acknowledge the patrol vehicle. Then all of a sudden the vehicle jerked to the right, hit the curb and came to a stop. While making contact with the driver, the subject and the entire vehicle interior smelled of perfume. Field sobriety tasks and further investigation at the jail determined the subject was impaired and was booked for DUI.


Officer Garrison and Investigator Munkelt were on water patrol in the area of South Pine Channel in the lower Keys. They observed one individual diving along the rocks with a pole spear and one individual under the bridge. They made contact with the subject in the water and he advised he was just trying to spearfish. Officer Garrison then made contact with the subject under the bridge and inquired about any fish or lobster. The subject advised he didn’t have any fish or lobster. Through keen observation skills and attention to detail, Officer Garrison observed a towel hidden in the rocks along the water’s edge. Officer Garrison asked who the towel belong to. The individual advised it was his and he lifted it up. Officer Garrison then observed a bag of lobster under the towel. The individual advised it belong to him and the subject in the water. Inside that bag was 23 lobster, 21 of which were undersized and five were speared. Officer Garrison interviewed both subject after they waved their Miranda Rights. The subject in the water advised he caught all the lobster and wrung the tails. He was subsequently arrested and taken to the Key West Jail. He was charged with 21 undersized lobster, five speared lobster and 23 over the bag limit of lobster and no lobster measuring devise. The subject was also issued citations for no fishing license, no lobster permit, and no divers down flag.

After a five month absence of the SRB 12 meter vessel, on the first patrol Officers Johnson, Wingard and Way assisted the United States Coast Guard with the rescue of 28 migrants off of the Marquesas Keys west of Key West. The crew picked up and transported the migrants to an awaiting United States Coast Guard Cutter and then they were transported to them to Key West for processing.

Officer Mattson was on state water patrol when he observed a vessel with a dive flag that was improperly displayed anchored in one of the Special Preservation Area’s. He observed the boat through binoculars. One man was in the water snorkeling. Another man in the boat threw the man in the water a spear gun. Officer Mattson approached the boat and cited the man in the water for spear fishing Upper Keys.

Dozens of FWC officers, along with assistance from the United States Coast Guard Station Miami Beach worked a Targeted Enforcement Detail at Nixon Beach in Southern Dade County. The detail was put together after a series of high profile boating accidents which occurred recently at the local “partying spot”. During the detail there were no reported boating accidents, but there were eight BUIs made, 18 boating citations issued, and 14 warnings. Officers also made 11 Felony arrests, and a minor drug arrest along with a misdemeanor citation for providing alcohol to a minor.

Investigator Haney received a report of a dead alligator in a canal in a mobile home park. There were no witnesses to the shooting, but Investigator Haney was able to identify a local resident as a suspect. He conducted an interview of the suspect and the man confessed to shooting the alligator when he saw it behind his residence. The man was arrested and booked into jail; he was charged with the illegal killing of an alligator and discharge of a firearm in a residential area. The rifle he used was seized for forfeiture.

While out on water patrol, west of Everglades City, Officers Lugg and Van Trees encountered a stopped vessel in the middle of the Barron River channel. While the officers performed a boating safety inspection on the vessel, they discovered one of the occupants on board had caught and was in possession of an undersized red drum. After interviewing the subject, a second red drum was discovered aboard the vessel in the bottom of a cooler, underneath several items. The subject was issued a citation for possession of an undersized red drum and over the daily bag limit of red drum.

While on land patrol on US 41, Officers Lugg and Van Trees assisted US Fish and Wildlife Officer Costello during a fisheries inspection. The individuals were trespassing on federal land, just north of port of the Islands. Officers Lugg and Van Trees conducted the fisheries inspection, which showed that one of the subjects was in possession of a juvenile tarpon. The subject was given a brief interview, after which it was found that the subject did not possess a valid tarpon tag. The subject was charged with illegal possession of a tarpon without a valid tarpon tag.

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