WJTV News Channel 12 - Woman illegally rides manatee off Siesta Key

Woman illegally rides manatee off Siesta Key

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

On the north side of Siesta Key, on a sand bar, a herd of manatees attracted the attention of a group of waders. But instead of admiring their beauty from a distance, a woman grabbed one, then rode on its back. Later, she touched a manatee again, and so does the guy she's with.

We took the video taken from Eagle 8 to Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Baryl Martin. As he watched, he commented. "Yeah, it appears somebody, one of the females is touching the manatees on the back. And actually riding the manatee. That's a violation of the manatee sanctuary act" said Martin.

Bothering a manatee is a second degree misdemeanor. You can spend 60 days in jail and be fined 5-hundred dollars. Besides being illegal, it can be dangerous. So Mote Marine Laboratory offers some advice.

Watch manatees from at least 1-hundred feet away.

Don't push them into deeper water.

And don't feed or harass manatees.

"These are one of the most beloved animals in the State of Florida and it's really our job and everybody's job to try and keep these animals safe said the FWC's Baryl Martin.  

 

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