Fla. Woman Arrested On Charge She Rode Manatee

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant Saturday on the charge of violating Florida’s Manatee Sanctuary Act

Sunday, Nov 25, 2012  |  Updated 9:13 AM EDT
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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Authorities say this photo shows a woman riding a manatee.

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A St. Petersburg woman has been charged with violating Florida law by riding a manatee, authorities said.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 53, was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant Saturday on the charge of violating Florida’s Manatee Sanctuary Act. Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say she was photographed riding the manatee at Fort De Soto Park in September.

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On Oct. 2, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference asking for the public's help in identifying the woman. Gutierrez called deputies and allegedly admitted touching the endangered sea mammal. She told them she was new to the area and didn't know it was illegal to touch a manatee. The manatee was not hurt.

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That same month, authorities told Gutierrez that charges would be forwarded to prosecutors, officials said. Officials at the time said the crime may not have been an arrestable offense, because a deputy was not present when it occurred.

Still, the case was referred to the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office, which conducted a review and issued the misdemeanor arrest warrant, according to the Tampa Bay Times.   

The manatee law 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 maximum penalty is a $500 fine and six months in jail. Gutierrez was released on $1,500 bail.

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