A Florida woman who mounted an endangered manatee two months ago was finally arrested Saturday for violating state law, according to reports. (She) had already turned herself in last month after the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office sought help identifying a woman seen in photos riding a sea cow like a bodyboard. The Sept. 30 incident took place along coastal waters off of Fort De Soto Park near St. Petersburg. … She was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida’s Manatee Sanctuary Act, which makes it illegal for people to “intentionally or negligently … molest, harass, or disturb any manatee.”
The hulking marine mammals, with their paddle-like forelimbs, have been on Florida’s endangered list since 1967, according to the Wildlife Advocacy Project.
(She) told authorities “she is new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees,” they said in a news release. Investigators initially waited to charge her because they thought they needed to have witnessed the incident. But the case was forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, which issued the warrant for her arrest.
Authorities said they don’t believe the manatee was physically harmed, although the psychological effects are still unknown. … She was released Saturday from the Pinellas County Jail on $1,500 bail, and faces a $500 fine or up to 60 days behind bars, the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday.
Were there signs that clearly warn “No mounting the manatees”? One would hope. What do you suppose the psychological effects would be? I guess it depends a lot on manatee culture. Is mounting an insult? A sign of friendship? If you are a sea cow and you get mounted by a hairless cloth covered monkey, is that cool? Only a manatee, only that particular manatee would know.