Nearly two months ago deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida asked for help identifying a woman photographed riding a manatee at Fort DeSoto Park in Tierra Verde. Shortly after the incident, the woman in the photographs called the sheriff’s office to turn herself in.
In the meantime, the online world had a riot as the photographs of a woman “riding” a manatee circulated the internet. However, 53-year-old Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez was not laughing. After the incident on September 30, deputies visited her home to inform her of the charges that will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for her offense. It is against the law to touch or harass manatees.
During questioning, Gutierrez said she was new to the area and that she did not realize touching manatees was against the law.
Her arrest came at impeccable timing – four days after her 53rd birthday. On Saturday, November 24, deputies arrived at the retail store she is employed at to issue an arrest warrant for a violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. 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.”
Her violation is a 2nd degree misdemeanor for which there is a maximum penalty fine of $500 and six months in jail. At the time of this writing, Gutierrez was released on $1,500 bail.