Woman Photographed Riding A Manatee Turns Herself In

A Florida woman claims she didn't know it was against the law to ride a manatee.

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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Manatees are an endangered species, which is just one of the many reasons you should not pose for the camera while riding one.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to intentionally “molest, harass, or disturb” any manatee. We’re not legal experts, but we’re willing to bet that includes riding one like a horse. However, Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, of St. Petersburg, Florida, claims she was unaware of the law when she was photographed riding a so-called sea cow like a body board.

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Police were called to Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, Fla. on Sunday to investigate reports of a woman riding a manatee, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Witnesses were able to describe the event and show police photographs of the woman, but officers did not witness the misdemeanor themselves. The deputies then turned to the media to help find the woman in the photographs.

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“To her credit, she called us up and let us know she was the one in the pictures,” Sgt. David DiSano of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told the New York Daily News. Deputies questioned Gutierrez at her home and she admitted to riding the manatee. However she explained that she was new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or ride manatees, investigators told the Sentinel. Gutierrez then turned herself in to the police on Tuesday.

The manatee the woman was riding was not thought to have been harmed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

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