Photo: Steve Leach, Fastball Photography
Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez is in big trouble after she harassed a marine mammal at Fort DeSoto Park on Sunday.
Witnesses caught Gutierrez, 52, not only pestering a manatee, but actually climbing on top of one and riding it around for awhile.
Onlookers reportedly yelled for her to get off, telling her is was illegal, but she either did not hear them or did not care.
When she did not get off the animal, also known as a seas cow, witnesses began snapping photos. She can clearly be seen wearing a black and white bikini top and red board shorts as she rides the manatee before simply climbing off and out of the water. She’s even captured walking away with a smile on her face.
Under Florida law, it is illegal to “annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.”
Though Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene of the incident, they were unable to get to Gutierrez before she left.
However, thanks to the photos, Gutierrez’s face was shown around. Gutierrez turned herself in on Monday and claimed she was new in town and had no idea had done anything wrong until she saw the media attention her ride attracted.
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.”
The animal is said to be fine and without injury, but Gutierrez could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
Authorities say it is currently manatee mating season so there are more of them in shallower water. The manatee typically only mate once every two years.