HORRIFIED onlookers watched as a family threw a freshwater turtle into the sea, seemingly as part of a cruel game.
The terrapin bounced and skimmed across the waves after he was thrown into the sea near Boscombe Pier in Bournemouth.
Appalled members of the public saw the 10in-long reptile — nicknamed Terry — disappear into the water as two adults and two children smirked.
As poeple rushed to save him, the family roared off from the promenade in a silver Mazda.
RSPCA inspector Josephine Story, who is hunting the family, said ‘Releasing a freshwater reptile into the British sea at this time of year is a sure way of causing it to suffer. Sadly we know that many terrapins have been dumped in waterways when they become too large or difficult to care for.’
Red-eared and yellow-bellied terrapins, also known as sliders, are deemed an ‘invasive alien species’ under EU regulations to stop them being released into the wild.
Nicola White, senior scientific officer for the RSPCA, urged people ‘to think carefully before buying an exotic pet’. Anyone with information about the incident on Saturday, February 3, can contact the RSPCA on 0300 1238018.