Manatee Rider Turns Herself In
Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez claimed that she didn't realize riding a manatee is illegal.
A woman caught in photos riding a manatee at Fort De Soto Park turned herself in Tuesday, after the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office launched a high-profile search for her.
Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, called into the Pinellas County Communications Center Tuesday afternoon to say that she was the woman seen in photographs riding an endangered manatee. The photos appeared on television and were posted to online news sites, including Patch.
Deputies met Gutierrez at her St. Petersburg home Tuesday afternoon, where she claimed she was new to the area and didn't realize it was illegal to touch sea cows.
The mammals are more commonly seen this time of year because it is their breeding season, where they head to shallower waters to mate.
The deputies explained to her the laws protecting manatees and possible consequences.
Gutierrez's charges will be brought to the State Attorney's office for prosecution.
Gutierrez was not arrested due to the crime not happening in the presence of a deputy.
It is against the law to touch manatees, which are listed as endangered by the state and federal governments.
According to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is unlawful for any person to intentionally or negligently disturb a manatee in any way. Violations are considered second degree misdemeanors.
Beach goers who saw Gutierrez astride a manatee had summoned park rangers, who contacted deputies. By the time they arrived, Gutierrez had dropped out of sight.