Florida Woman Arrested for Riding a Manatee

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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

In the latest dispatch from Florida, the country’s unofficial capital of bizarre news, the woman who recently turned herself in for riding a manatee has now been arrested.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, of St. Petersburg, came forward and admitted to the crime in early October, after being photographed riding on the back of one of the marine mammals in Fort De Soto Park, just outside St. Petersburg — though she said she was unaware that she’d committed a crime at all. Alas, ignorance does not equal innocence, and on Saturday she was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant, the Los Angeles Times reports.

An anonymous bystander photographed Gutierrez grabbing on to the manatee and, essentially, riding it like a boogie board, but because police were not on the scene of the incident, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office released the photo in the hopes that a witness could identify the woman. Conveniently enough, she called in and identified herself.

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No law specifically prohibits riding a manatee — also known as a sea cow — but the state’s Manatee Sanctuary Act does deem it 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” the endangered animals. Back when Gutierrez turned herself in, NewsFeed went ahead and assumed that riding one would fall somewhere into the annoy/disturb category, automatically making her actions a second-degree misdemeanor. And indeed, that appeared to be the case when she was taken into custody on Saturday at the Sears department store where she works.

The maximum penalty for this type of infraction is a $500 fine and up to six months in jail; Gutierrez was released on $1,500 bail, the Associated Press reports. And to those who were concerned: the manatee was not hurt in the humiliating incident — at least, not physically.

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4 comments
samuwells
samuwells like.author.displayName 1 Like

How do they know it wasn't just two manatees mating and one of them was wearing a hat?

LyndaAugustine
LyndaAugustine

I'm glad she did the right thing in turning herself in.  I don't think she intended to harm the manatee, but she should have known better.  I agree with Mark C.  She should be fined enough to punish her and to deter others from doing the same.  If nothing else, I guess one good thing could come out of this, and that would be bringing awareness to the manatee.

MarkC
MarkC like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

A silly question here, if someone turns them self in of their own free will... why is bail necessary?  What she did was just plain mean and dumb, however the poor lady works at Sears.  Punish her just enough to insure she will never do such a thing again, and then let the poor lady go.

genomega
genomega

Another case of the inmates running the asylum...