Florida manatee swimmer could face jail time, fine

A Florida woman was videotaped riding a manatee in Fort De Soto Beach, near Tampa Bay, last Sunday and may face a $1,000 fine under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez was videotaped riding three manatees despite numerous signs around the beach and various beachgoers asking her to get off the mammals, the report said.

"She was jumping from one to another," Lynn Parrish, who witnessed the swim, told the station.

Gutierrez, who turned herself in to authorities, reportedly told law enforcement officials that she’s new to the area and was unaware that it was against the law to touch manatees.

Florida wildlife officials said the more manatees are exposed to humans, the tamer they become. They'll be drawn to people, especially if they feed them. As a result, manatees end up injured. They get too close to boats and get cut or killed by the boat's propellers.

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Gutierrez faces up to $1,000 in fines and 60 days in jail. The case has been handed over to the state attorney’s office.

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