[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] 'Manatee rider' turns herself in


'Manatee rider' turns herself in

Oct 03, 2012 1:39 PM EDT

Pinellas County, FL -

A woman photographed trying to ride a manatee in Pinellas County turned herself in Tuesday afternoon.

The sheriff's office had asked for help in finding the woman, who could be seen in the photos at Fort DeSoto Park on Sunday on top of a manatee.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, of St. Petersburg, called deputies after the photos were widely distributed online and on television.

Deputies went to her home to question her. She allegedly told them she was new to the area and did not realize that it was against the law to touch or harass manatees.

Since they didn't witness the incident, deputies were unable to arrest Gutierrez, but the case was forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Florida State Statute 379.2431(2)d (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".

The crime is a second degree misdemeanor.

Authorities don't believe any of the manatees were injured.

NBC News

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