Woman Who Took a Ride on a Manatee Identified: Deputies

Authorities located the woman who was allegedly observed touching and riding the manatee

By Lisa Orkin Emmanuel
|  Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012  |  Updated 11:10 AM EDT
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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

A photo of the woman authorities are looking for.

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A woman who was allegedly seen touching and riding a manatee in Fort Desoto Park over the weekend turned herself into authorities, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez called the sheriff's office after 4 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

Authorities had asked the public to help identify the woman after witnesses gave them her description and photos of her riding the sea cow, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. She was seen riding the manatee at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the water north of Gulf Pier, authorities said.

Gutierrez was questioned by deputies at her home and she admitted to the offense, authorities said.

She claimed that was new to the area and didn't know it was against the law to touch manatees, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies told her about the law and possible penalties, which include up to 60 days in jail and a possible fine.

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The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Acts states that: "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."

Authorities told her that charges would be forwarded to prosecutors, but the crime was not an arrestable offense because a deputy was not present when it occurred.

Authorities do not believe any manatees were injured.

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