Men Sentenced in Manatee Harassment Caught on Video

Taylor Blake Martin and Seth Andrew Stephenson were sentenced in a Florida courtroom for harassment of a manatee, in an incident captured on video and posted to Facebook. (Published Thursday, June 19, 2014)

Two men were ordered to pay fines and given community service for harassing and jumping on two manatees in a videotaped incident posted to Facebook.

Taylor Blake Martin and Seth Andrew Stephenson, both 22, were both sentenced to 175 hours of community service and 2 years' probation in an Orlando courtroom Wednesday.

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Martin was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine while Stephenson will pay $2,000. They will also have to post an apology and statement of remorse on Facebook.

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Authorities say the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission became aware of the video that showed Stephenson lure an adult manatee and a calf to a dock with a water hose.

Martin then jumped off the dock and "cannon-balled" onto the back of the adult manatee, authorities said.

After the video was posted on Facebook, several people commented on it. In response to a post that expressed displeasure with Martin’s actions, authorities said Martin responded, “hahaha…in my debue [sic] as tayla the manatee slaya…im f---- ready to cannonball on every manatee living yewwww."

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Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. The pair avoided jail only because the manatees weren't injured.

"The U.S. Magistrate Judge sent a clear message with this sentence that manatee harassment is a serious crime which will be dealt with harshly," said Andrew Alois, with the FWC. "If there had been evidence of physical damage to the manatees he would have put them in jail."