Tierra Verde, Florida – According to authorities, a woman was arrested for misdemeanor warrant since she was photographed riding a manatee last September in Fort De Soto Beach, near Tampa Bay.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office stated that Ana Gloria Garcia-Gutierrez, 53 years old, of St. Petersburg was arrested at a Sears store where she works on suspicion of violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
The arrest stemmed from reports on September 30 that an unidentified woman had been seen touching and riding a manatee – which can grow up to 12 feet in length and weigh up to 1,800 pounds (818 kilograms) – at Fort Desoto Park, a few miles from downtown St. Petersburg.
Witnesses in the area at the time notified law enforcement of the incident and were able give deputies a description, including photos, of the woman and her location in the waterway.
Ana Gloria Garcia-Gutierrez turned herself in last Oct. 3, after pictures of her riding the endangered sea mammal were released to the media by law enforcement authorities.
Garcia-Gutierrez admitted during the interview with the officlas, into touching and riding the manatee, claiming she was new to the area at the time and did not realize it was against state law to touch or harass manatees.
The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act states, “It is unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner intentionally or negligently to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any Manatee”.
Ana Gloria Garcia-Gutierrez was released on $1,500 bail, according to The Associated Press. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine and 6 months in jail.