(photo @ bowardpalmbeach.com)
Update: The rogue manatee rider turned herself in on Tuesday evening. (See below)
Pinellas County, Florida
Pinellas County, Florida
Police are currently searching for a woman who was photographed riding a manatee on Sunday, September 30 at approximately 1:00 PM. Fort De Soto beach goers snapped pictures of the still unidentified female, which were released by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (and can be viewed below in all their awkward glory).
While going for an impromptu manatee ride might not seem like that big a deal (or worth alerting the authorities over), there is a bit more to the story. For starters, Florida has some pretty strict laws when it comes to protecting their adorable water creatures. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act considers the following to be highly illegal:
"...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."
Disobeying this law (and getting caught) will stick you with a second-degree misdemeanor. But even if you think that's a little overboard for a crime involving a sea cow, this might be a case where the punishment isn't enough. According to witnesses on the beach that day, the woman was riding atop a manatee that was attempting to mate with another one.
Even if you don't care at all about these awesome animals (or somehow don't find what she did to be that repulsive), than at least be cognizant of the fact that this lady heartlessly busted up some poor manatee's game while it was trying to get his or her swerve on.
If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. If you have had any similar experiences with manatees during your lifetime, please contact a mental health professional.
"Best revenge on an ex-boyfriend ever!"
After being hunted by police and the specter of internet infamy/shame, 52-year-old Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez called the Pinellas County Police and identified herself as the woman that had been photographed riding a manatee.
When officers arrived at her home, Gutierrez claimed ignorance of the state's strict laws against manatee disturbance/molestation. She was not arrested, but charges will be brought against her by State Attorney's office for prosecution.
The crisis is over. You may all go back to your regularly scheduled divisive political arguments.